On Her Own

Like riding a bicycle

All of us have some hobby, some past-time, some activity that we once really enjoyed. We liked to read, we enjoyed crafting or making things, we ran, we played sports, we rode motorcycles, we played musical instruments, we gardened, we painted, we cooked and baked.

And at some point in our lives, we let them fall by the wayside. We let them go for a few weeks that have or might turn into months, then years, then decades even. It can happen because we simply got too busy, or had other priorities pop up. Or maybe the internal or external pressure to succeed at it in some way got to be too much and they weren’t fun anymore. A difficult or traumatic life event may have gotten connected to it, so we shy away from going back. Sometimes, we might make an effort to get set up, or go so far as making a brief return. Then something intervenes and they become only a fond memory memory again. As time passes, we hold equal parts desire to have that joy back in our lives and fear that we won’t be able to stick with it or it won’t be the same if we try.

But here’s the thing: we won’t know until we do. It’s also very likely that if it’s something we were skilled with before, we will retain some measure of that skill even if we have taken a longer break than we would have once wanted. I learned that on Friday, getting back on my motorcycle after over three weeks off because life got in the way. As new as I am to the skill, it took just minutes to be as comfortable as I was on my last ride. There’s brain science about neural pathways and myelination and how skills are learned and retained, so that they can be woken back up in the future. They may be a little rusty, and we may be a little uncertain about them, but we’ll fall back in as an experienced returnee and not a brand-new learner. Even if we have to start from the beginning, we’ll advance in bursts as we remember how it all once was.

So here’s an assignment for you this week: pick one of those activities you miss. In the next seven days, carve out the time to do it not once, but twice, to start building it back into your life. Tell me what you’re planning, then report back when you’ve done it.

It’ll be just like remembering how to ride a bike, tentative and wobbly during those first moments back, and settling right back in by the time we’ve made it past the first blocks.

Hi, I'm Annette.

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