This & That: Choosing Struggle
Hello and happy Tuesday!
In today’s newsletter I’m sharing an article I’ve revisited a number of times in the last few months, a few multigenerational epics to fill your long summer days, and as always, some great links to peruse.
Let’s get right to it!
Find Something to Get Better At
A few months back I stumbled on a great New York Times article from 2012 about learning tennis later in life.
Though I’m not as long in the tooth as Gerald Marzorati was when he wrote this decade-old piece, I’m finding it eminently relatable as I learn a difficult new skill as an adult. For Marzorati, it was tennis (a sport I’ve known and loved since elementary school); for me, it’s piano. No matter the craft, the desire to “get better at something” — even well into adulthood — is universal.
“I wanted to do something difficult. That was why I wanted to try tennis. I had been good at things. I was still good at things. I didn’t need a hobby, or a way to meet people. I wanted to get better at something; it had been a long time since I’d sensed that. I wanted to learn something that I would not be learning by reading; I had been reading all of my life, had spent the better part of four decades reading for a living. I wanted, one last time, to struggle at something I could control because the last real struggles were going to be ones I could not.”
For many adults, this desire to get better solely takes the form of learning new skills for work. How sad, though, to give something as intrinsically rewarding as learning entirely to your job!
Few things in life are as existentially rewarding as learning something new or getting better at something — just for yourself. Not for the sake of competition (though that can be part of it), not for the sake of starting or growing a side hustle, not for Instagram/TikTok views. Just for you.
I’m aware that I’ve written a version of this before too, but: Find a thing. Work at it. Embrace the struggle.