Saturday, July 28, 2012

Challenges of a Lifetime

Remember my college classmate Susan Orkin, who, unlike so many of us reported  feeling no guilt about simply enjoying herself?
The more she and I talk about transition issues, the clearer she becomes about what she is doing and why. And it turns out she isn’t simply,  la-di-da, enjoying French classes and the great classics, concerts, and piano lessons.  Like being on some kind of longterm vacation.
Instead, Susan calls it a journey of “learning and self-improvement” – one that she’s been on all her life.  But now that she has the time, she’s taking it to a new level and is challenging herself in ways she hasn’t before.
So here’s her news: after returning to her love of the piano – taking classes and practicing a couple of hours a day --  she had the courage to try out for a chamber music group – something she’d never done before. And she’s in!
But rising to a “challenge” is not how she would frame it.
 “I just have such an insatiable curiosity about everything and, some kind of feeling that I want to better understand the world/our place in it,” she wrote me. “I never feel I have enough time to do all I want to do/learn all I want to learn, get some grip on the big questions...
 I am thrilled that I have the time now to set my own curriculum, in a sense. That said, piano has become a bit of a passion….
But implicit in your take is that one must be on a quest or challenging oneself. I am thrilled by the feeling of increasing mastery and overcoming my inhibitions to play for an audience and with other people, but what if I just loved it and played only for myself?
 I am so glad that I didn't feel I had to do " the next big thing" which might have been trying to find a challenging volunteer role in my field or something like Renew because then I never would have moved into music.
Go Susan!
For me, having constant challenges is what makes me feel alive, whether climbing Mt. Lafayette, as we did last week or trying to keep you engaged in this blog. Am I just competitive? Competing with myself?
Are challenges what drive you?

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