June 1st, 2016


Interesting Links for 01-06-2016


It's been a while since I enjoyed being really rubbish at something

I used to be bad at a lot of things. It takes me a while to _really_ get to grips with a subject, and I usually have to get a deep grasp of a subject to feel at all comfortable with it. Basically, if I didn't feel I could explain something, I felt like I was flailing around randomly with it. I tend, in fact, to go from "Aieee! I know nothing!" to "This subject is reallly trivial" in one step, it's just a really big step that only happens when I've stuffed enough of the subject into my head to really deeply get it.

However! This never put me off. I was, if anything, drawn to subjects I knew nothing about. I grew up with shelves covered with books that expected me to have lots of context that I completely lacked, and I just ploughed through them, assuming that I'd either pick up what was going on later, or if not then I could re-read the book in a year or three and understand it then*.

But it's been a while since I felt attracted to that kind of thing. I spent several years getting a deep understanding of subjects rather than enjoying the confusion of a new subject. Until the last few days. When I've been (a) spending some time with people who are much lit-heavier than my usual crowd** (b) going to a swing dancing class.

The first of these has been a fascinating exercise in feeling partially out of my depth. I don't hate poetry***, but I've rarely felt the urge to seek it out. So it's been a lot of fun just keeping up with conversations, making mental notes about people's names, joining in where I'm not completely ignorant, and being exposed to new things. Oh, and being reminded that live poetry shows can be an awful lot of fun.

The second of these was a bit like being hit in the face with a bucket full of ice-cream. On the one hand, a complete shock to the system that left me moist, exhausted, and in a mild state of shock. On the other hand, if I can work out how to do it _well_ then I get a lot of ice cream out of it****.

It turns out that I can either do the simple foot movements that make up one of the basic Lindy Hop steps, or I can do something with my arms, but not both. It also turns out that when I'm not confident in the basics then the chances of me being comfortable improvising are zero. And so I enjoyed the class, but largely because I could see that it _will_ be a lot of fun, once I've got the hang of things. I then went along to the social dance an hour later, where I had an awful lot of fun watching people, but felt too awkward to do anything much myself.

But I'll definitely be going back again. Because frankly the people who were even somewhat good at it were clearly having an amazing time, and I have confidence that it's something I will be able to do if I just put the time/effort in.

*Which led to me being very frustrated by people whose reaction to a mysterious opening scene of a movie is to say "What's going on there? Who is this person, and why have they just shot that person?" - The writer will let us know eventually. If they haven't done so by the end of the movie _then_ you can start worrying about your confusion, otherwise just enjoy it.
**The kind of people who help organise poetry festivals, work at book festivals, etc. Rather than the kind of people who organise science-fiction conventions, make computer games, and play board games.
***I've certainly written enough mediocre poetry for my own entertainment.
****Metaphorical ice cream, of course.

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