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There's a great thread in the Cracked forums right now called the "Learn a Fascinating New Skill in 2013" Project. It's all about making you more than you are right now, about learning to do something with enough skill that it would arguably impress a stranger, not that you would ever want to impress a stranger because, as we established, they all want to take your wallet and fill your bum with gravel. Anyway, the thread is about becoming good at something that requires effort and knowledge. It's a mountain of an idea.
You've probably watched TV or some YouTube videos at some point and seen a 5-year-old shredding it on guitar, or surfing, or rattling off amazing facts about American presidents that you didn't even know. Likely you were caught somewhere between amazement and depression after seeing this. There are 5-year-olds all over the world right now who can do things better than you. That's a terrible feeling, because we internalize things like that as failure, even if it's only very mildly on a subconscious level. Anything we can't do makes us feel like we did something wrong or we missed the boat somehow. And of course you can then be a bigger person and just be impressed at someone else's skills, or be OK with the fact that we can't know and do everything on our own, but for a second there's that flare of almost jealousy, when you wish you could do the same thing.
Given all of this, it seems like bettering yourself would almost be easy. You want to play guitar, don't you? Knowing how to play guitar would in no way ruin your life, it would only enrich it. If you could learn guitar right now, at no cost either temporal or financial, there would be no reason not to (for you people who already know guitar, imagine I'm talking about building a life-size sexbot). So what stops you from learning that skill, or any skill, that would enrich you or make you better? It's that temporal and financial thing.
"Singin' 'bout male yeast infections. They're a real thing, ya know?"
The easiest way to talk yourself out of doing anything is to start looking for reasons to not do it, and since a body at rest prefers to stay at rest, you want your ass on the sofa as much as possible. Isaac Newton said that. Yeah, you could learn guitar, but you need to buy a guitar. Even a cheap one could be pretty costly. Then what, picks and stuff? And strings? And a book of children's favorite songs? Hair like a dirty hippie? Then lessons? Shit, how long will those be?
Now suppose you don't want to be a human turd and you actually do this thing to make you a better, more well-rounded person. The next time you get an incline, you will go through the exact same thing. Your brain is out to ruin you. Luckily for some few motivated people, they can easily talk themselves into all kinds of fun, new experiences. These people are envied by the more lazy types like myself. For us, every new endeavor requires this same stupid internal struggle of trying to convince yourself to be better. Which is so tragically stupid, someone should write a black comedy starring Joan Cusack about it. The fact that you need to convince yourself to be better than you are, and the fact that you will likely not succeed, is a testament to man's ability to not give a shit about anything.
I deal with my lack of betterment through writing. I could have learned to play guitar instead of writing this article. But here we are. I can hum "Stairway to Heaven" for you. Or "SexyBack."
This is a stairway to the bathroom.
To take some of the sting out of this, at least on my part, I have written a draft of a novel, which, even if no one has seen it yet, is still an accomplishment for me and something I am proud of. And I still want more, but find it hard to make the time and put in the effort to do these things. I have screenplays to finish, but then what do I do with them? Who do I send them to? I need to look into that. And I really do own a guitar, but have yet to develop much beyond my strumming. I want to bust out some Clapton when I'm drunk. Maybe one day, right? That's what we all say.
Do yourself a favor and make yourself a better person. You're never too old to learn something new. If I can't come back by this time next year and say I've learned a valuable new skill, I'll consider my whole career a failure. Hold me to that. Or just hold me. I'm lonesome.