#1 - I Have A Little List

28 Feb 2011

Just under a year ago I made a list.

Have you ever been in the middle of something and suddenly thought to yourself, “This is great. Why don’t I do this more often?” or “I’d like to know more about this, I should really read into it some more”. With my thirtieth birthday looming on the horizon, I found myself increasingly thinking in this way.

I’m lucky in the way that I find enjoyment in a wide range of different activities and subjects but I often feel I don’t spend enough time on any one thing. I think most of us go through periods where we enjoy doing something regularly only to find a few weeks, months, or even years, down the line that we can’t remember the last time we made time for it. I began to think of many things that had been flavour of the month for me at some point but that I felt I had never really pursued to their full potential.

Perhaps it was something about the prospect of turning thirty that spurred me in this direction. I think our twenties can be quite experimental. Most of us are probably still working out what it is we actually want to do (and what it is we’d rather not have to). With the arrival of my thirties, I saw the need for specialisation. I realised I can’t do everything, life isn’t long enough. I had to purge and consolidate. So I made a list.

I wrote down about thirty interests and split them into a number of categories like Art & Craft, Food & Drink, Sport, Music, and Writing.

Some of the items on the list were things I was already doing regularly to a varying extent but many of them had fallen by the wayside sometime in the past. I made my thirtieth birthday a sort of deadline: by then I wanted to have at least worked out a game-plan for each item on the list and started as many as I could.

My thirtieth birthday came and went with September and by then I think I had made quite a good attempt at laying down the foundations for many of the things on the list. For some it was just a case of thinking of something that would motivate me. A plan of attack, a project to work on, a routine or a history of notes. Here are some examples:

Art & Craft: Photography & Cinematography - I have always wanted an SLR but didn’t think I would make the effort to carry it around with me. I bit the bullet, bought a Canon and a decent prime lens and started taking snaps. For each event or occasion I take my camera to, I now put together an album of the best snaps and/or a short movie of video clips and publish these to Facebook after a bit of post production. The creation of these semi-polished public entities becomes the motivation for taking the camera along, taking the snaps in the first place and trying to improve my photography and editing skills.

Food & Drink: Wine - I think most people enjoy a good glass of wine. My parents are great Francophiles and I have been raised on a healthy diet of French red but never really knew my regions or grapes. After embarking on a joint venture with fellow oenophile Stephen, I have tasted a great selection of French wine in last year keeping short tasting notes on each bottle. We also visited Beaune last summer and attended a talk and tasting by a young Burgundy producer. My goal is to drink at least one wine from every AOC in France. It may take a while. In the meantime, I’m building up a reasonable bit of knowledge about wine which is helping me select my tipple with a little more conviction.

Food & Drink: Cooking - I go through phases of enjoying creating things in the kitchen but work sometimes gets in the way and, when coming to the end of a hard day, it’s often easier to go for the quick and easy option for dinner. My motivation here is to build up a kind of personal recipe book which will serve as inspiration when it comes to deciding on what to make for dinner or what supplies to get in each week. A recipe list also makes it easier for me to evolve and improve my recipes and not forget them entirely after a period of underuse. When I learn a new dish now I try and find the most traditional recipe as a starting point. Like music, a cover may be good but the original is most often the best. I am also trying to learn about base ingredients that persist through a certain regions’ cuisine. Having a grasp of this makes it easier to create a foundation on which to experiment.

Sport: Running - I play football and golf regularly but running is something I’ve never had the drive to do. I need a purpose to run. I’m happy running after a ball in football but going out for a run for the sake of running holds no interest for me. Keeping a history of my runs and best times has been enough to motivate me to run every Monday night. It is on the way to football though, I still won’t just do a loop.

Music: Songwriting - I’ve written and recorded music on and off since I was 14 but playing live music 2 or 3 times a week has meant that this side of things has tailed off a little in the last few years. I decided a good way of getting back into the swing would be to re-record some of my old tunes. Rather than having to sit down with an empty slate I chose 20 songs with the aim of recording them as I would play them now. In some cases they have taken a massive departure from their original incarnation. I’m hoping that this will be an interesting enough project to get me back on track for coming up with some new material soon after.

Which brings me to writing. Short stories, comedy sketches, essays, long drawn out emails... I enjoy putting together a piece of writing once in a while but it’s been a long time since I sat down and wrote on a subject of my own choosing and I can’t remember ever having made anything public. So here I am on blog post one. Let’s see if I can keep this up. No set dates or times, or minimum number of posts, but at least it’s on the list. And that should be motivation enough.