A young Toronto woman made international news headlines in 2017 when she had to be rescued from the top of a construction crane, about 25-story high in the air. The question everybody had in mind was why she scaled the crane in the first place. She explained herself in court:
I climbed to the top of the tower to see the view and take pictures. I thought it would make me feel more alive and would be exciting.
Deep down, we all want to feel more alive, be more adventurous. In my last post, ‘Alzheimer’s: no magic cure, but hope, yes’, I urge that ‘we learn new things, go new places, make new friends.’ But what new things are we going to try? Sometimes, it is not the lack of options, but the opposite, there are simply too many, that makes the decision difficult.
My friends, the good news is that you don’t have to climb a construction crane to feel an adrenaline rush. I will explain pivoting, a simple method I used to discover new personalized life challenges that are more than just fleeting interests.
The basic idea is to reflect on what you had accomplished in the past, what worked out for you. Your past experience forms the axis on which you will pivot, i.e., do something similar yet different.
Let me give you some actual examples. As an adult, I tried and failed to learn how to play the piano. If I had reflected back on my youth, I should have recalled that I took guitar and trumpet lessons, and both did not end well. It came to no surprise that my latest attempt of learning a musical instrument ended with a similar fate.
While my foray into music did not go well, language learning, on the other hand, was a completely different story. My earlier post described my aspiration of learning Spanish, my third language.
As a young teen, I had to learn English when my family came to Canada. It was hard work, but I did it because I needed to. With the acquired language, I was able to progress academically from my high school to undergraduate, and ultimately graduate studies.
About thirty years later, I consciously decided to learn yet another language. Not to get a job or a degree, but as a new interest in life. When I was looking for something worthwhile to engage in, I listed out my past accomplishments. Learning English was prominent on my list. So, I pivoted around learning a new language. And Spanish was my choice. I am not fluent yet in Spanish, but I am still learning, every day, and having fun.
My belief is that if you examine your own life history, you will also find a thing or 2 to pivot on and turn into a lifelong interest.