Note: one of my goals this year is to write essays regularly for the blog. My goal is to have about 500 words ready to publish every Thursday. I’m not sure how good the writing will be from week to week, but my goal is to publish every week, so what gets written is what is published. As always, comments are appreciated.
Last year I made two public resolutions, accomplishing one and failing at the other. But I made another resolution, didn’t tell a soul and was very successful in keeping to that resolution for 2011. I resolved to not take a single class, in anything, for the whole year. No one-day workshops in gardening, no short series of exercise classes, no free classes at the library, no learning a new technique, new hobby, a new way to cook. Whatever knowledge I had going into 2011 was not going to be supplemented by any new knowledge given to me in class form.
Why did I do this? Sometime in 2010 I realized that I was out of control with the classes. My classes budget (actually performances/classes) was wildly oversubscribed and that red figure in the budget continued to be troubling. So money was an issue. Time was the other issue. Off the top of my head, I know that in 2010 I took two classes in growing fruit, a beekeeping class, a 10 week ballet series, a running group at my gym and an eight-week harmony singing class. All of those classes took time away from my already established interests, leaving me excited about the new thing I was doing and frustrated that other things (the gardening, the cooking, the reading, the regular, already paid for, exercise classes at the gym) weren’t getting done.
So I stopped. It was incredibly freeing. When the catalogs for community education classes arrived in the mail, I just tossed them in the recycling bin. When the emails about gardening series arrived in the inbox I just deleted them. When I read flyers on bulletin boards, I just moved on. There was no burst of nervous excitement. I didn’t have to wedge the class into my schedule, figure out where the money was coming from to pay for it or get caught up in the dream of how it would transform my life.
Because that, I realized as the year progressed, was what the problem with classes was. Upon the discovery of a new class I would invest a ton of emotional energy into the fantasy of how my life would be changed by this new thing. A ten week series in ballet would leave me more graceful and with the will to transform my body into the lean carriage of a professional dancer. A series of classes about growing fruit in my backyard would open the door to bushels of fruit and the dedication to the daily upkeep involved. A series in harmony singing would propel me toward a side career in folk music performance.
But none of those classes created those things in my life. The ballet left me frustrated, at the state of my body right now and how incredibly hard even the beginner class was. The fruit growing classes gave me knowledge, but left me overwhelmed as to which step to do next and so nothing was done. The harmony singing classes were a joy, and also a frustration as I repeatedly failed to hold my end of the harmony bargain. The sad truth of the matter is, forming a “new” anything takes a lot of time and effort which is tough for a person whose time and effort is pretty well parceled out already.
Last year, what I felt the most was peace that the person I am currently has many interests already to keep her occupied. And I had the realization that I need to carefully select the classes I take, being respectful of my time and my budget. I also need to keep in mind that the end result of the class will not be a brand-new me. It will most likely just be the same old me, with a bit of new knowledge who may or may not have the will and the time to integrate the topic into my already full life.