On Friday I was at the ReadAlaska Book Fair, working a table, plugging my book. One thing I love about this annual event at the Anchorage Museum is that I see lots of people I know. People I know from all different walks of life. Some bike people; some not.
One person who came by the table was David, my mandolin teacher. "What?" you ask. We didn't know you play the mandolin. Well, David keeps making the assumption that I've been playing, practicing my chords and tunes, but today I admitted to him in front of witnesses that I am a serial hobbiest. Maybe you know what I'm talking about. Maybe you share my affliction. for those not familiar, let me explain:
Back in 2002, I walked across the street from the shop where I still work and ordered a mandolin. Never played one, but I like the sound and I like the size. I have a bit of a music background, so figured I'd pick it up just fine. I played and practiced, every evening learning scales and tunes, then moving on to chords. Started playing a bit with friends. Then in 2004, also known as the Year of the Book, I learned to knit.
Knitting became my writer's block refuge. Not sure what I wanted to say that day? Sit down with the Stitch 'n Bitch book and learn a new technique. Scarf, hats, socks, vest, mittens, NPR. Yarn store, books. Knit for a few hours and wonder where the time went. Instead of paragraphs, I had rows of stitches and was making my way up to an armhole. Felted mittens came into play (the most useful thing I made since they're fabulous for winter cycling).
Away went time to play music; I was making things. But in a few years, I drifted away from my proposed knitting projects. I can't quite pinpoint how this happened. But I have been writing more - if only here on this blog.
Then we come to the museum. Talking with David, then talking with a photographer I know about maybe learning to take better photos, then with a watercolor artist about the beauty of plein air painting, then a felt artist about the process of working with wool and silk to create her shawls and scarves. I thought about all the things I would love to learn, different things I'd like to try in order to gain more understanding and appreciation for different art forms. Did I mention pottery?
I've come to believe that learning new skills keeps the mind sharp. I told David this and I think he got what I was saying. But I guess it's sad that I haven't pulled out the ol' mandolin in quite some time, not to mention the circular knitting needles. If only I was able to manage my time in such a way that I could fit in all the things I enjoy. Returning to something, just like starting in the first place just takes a first step. Right?