This week I was making this – a short blog entirely in Russian. I have no idea if the Russian is good – I don’t even know if it’s comprehensible for native speakers without the subtitles on. All I know is that it put me back into my Russian-studying game after a cold had knocked all the motivation out of me and vastly improved my vocabulary. Benny Lewis of Fluentin3months has always maintained that speaking is the number-one priority to learning a language that most bookworms tend to neglect and that we should make videos in our languages to encourage us to get used to both speaking and dealing with an audience.
It also ties in with another big part of my adventure-seeking mentality – doing one thing each day that scares you.
I quote that line directly from the bizarre but inspiring message of the video below.
It’s called Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen) and was adapted into song by Baz Luhrmann from an article written by Mary Schmich back in the 90s. It contains nearly every little piece of advice everyone knows but no-one acts on and can easily work up a man to convince himself to change his life entirely for the few minutes following hearing the song for the first time. Of course this wears off and people sink back into the hum-drum but it’s a good rabble-rouser none the less.
I first heard this song-poem-thing when it was played to us by our head of Sixth Form (a higher level of pre-University education in Britain) for the sole purpose of outfitting us with such advice as is found in the lyrics. Ever since then, though I remember most of the message, there was one line that stuck out to me personally and has come back to me in recent months as I look in my life more and more for adventure. “Do one thing each day that scares you“.
At the start of this year’s Lent I had just discovered that in Lent you don’t have to just give up things you like – you can also take on things you’d like to accomplish. A second New Year’s Resolution, I was told. Regardless of the theological validity of such a notion I decided to put myself into a small “yes-man” situation à la Danny Wallace and accept any and all offers that came my way. I soon discovered that in reality there aren’t all that many amazingly exciting opportunities we let pass by in the first place – my life didn’t change all that profoundly. But I was still thinking about doing one thing each day that scared me and, combined with my search for things to say yes to, I found myself in a situation where though my day-to-day actions were not much changed my attitude was very much altered. I found myself looking at the world around me – looking for things to do and exciting opportunities to take the world up on. I felt like I had opened my eyes, to quote a cliché, and seen for the first time all I could possibly do. I feel healthier for feeling so less constrained by what I was “supposed” to do. Knowing I had the willpower and ability to randomly go running through the streets made deciding to walk down them in a normal and leisurely manner feel like a freedom rather than a societal expectation.
My point, however rambling, is that it’s healthy to realise our potential and it makes your life that much better to just say “to hell with it” and do things. There’s a fad going around young girls in particular at the moment called YOLO – You Only Live Once. It’s a philosophy of sorts that suggests that since we only have one life we should do what we want with it. I agree with the idea but the problem with these YOLOers is that they don’t do anything. They sit there with this wonderful little phrase that says “the world is my oyster – I can do anything and be anything” and then they just end up getting drunk and doing the same thing they do every night. To know that the world is your oyster and the just settle for a cheap hamburger instead is all-too-great a shame. You Only Live Once – do something special.