What can I say about adventures?
They can be terrifying.
I forget how much of competence is due to repetition. I forgot, until almost two years ago, I packed my suitcase in Florida and flew across the country to Oregon. The first time I drove up the small (and I mean small) hill to my new house, I freaked. Probably the first ten times. In Florida the nearest hill was the trash heap. If I picked my foot off the brake when the stoplight turned green, would I roll backwards like a runaway train? Of course I wouldn’t. I don’t. Now I take it for granted.
I never liked being new at something. I loathe being a stumbling young thing, all legs. When I was little, the grace of adults fascinated me. I was endlessly awed by how my mom would plunge her hand into a hot frying pan, plucking and flipping food while the oil popped. I wanted words to come easily. My limbs to move with sureness.
But you know a secret? All the stumbling is due to new neural connections firing off. Actually, I don’t know if that’s the exact science behind it, but I imagine this: an electric storm of activity going off in the brain as it scrambles to coordinate a completely new situation. A lot of resources go into understanding and orchestrating new experiences. I have a newfound admiration for kids–and for adults acting like kids, doing new things. It’s tough. Elegance is easy. Just practice, practice, practice until you don’t really need to think about it anymore. Doing something new, though…that requires a lot of effort. And often, a lot of courage. We don’t like being bad at things, especially when we’ve already gotten good at something else. I sure as hell don’t.
That’s the other part of the secret, though. Okay. Not secret. The good part. The good part is, all the activity that comes with doing something new keeps our brains plastic and healthy. It keeps us happy. If we’re older, it staves off dementia. Use it or lose it.
Live long, live happy…and sometimes, do stupid things and go on terrifying adventures. Be kind to yourself, and have fun.
I’ll feel remiss if I don’t add a plug for my upcoming release, The Spires of Turris, coming January 2nd from Ninestar Press. Protagonist London Wells makes a living doing stupid things and going on terrifying adventures. It’s a perfect book if you’re not in the position to go on an adventure in your own life. Because of the amazing biology of MIRROR NEURONS, your brain will make you think you’re actually there with London on a hostile alien planet, plus you’ll learn a LOT about fictional alien biology. It’s basically useless information in real life, but you’ll be LEARNING just the same. Also, there’s the dopamine. From indulging curiosity. And probably from reading sex scenes. Just saying. Virtual reality’s got nothing on reading fiction.