CONFESSIONS OF A STEP JUNKIE
Some time last fall I searched for a step counter--the kind you wear on your wrist that counts the number of steps you take in a day.
First mistake: I ordered a brand name wristband because I recognized the name. Mistake, because I didn't know enough about getting it set up--online, mind you, not here in my own home with my own two hands.
Second mistake: Didn't return the danged thing. Kept it, hoping a visit from one of my kids would release me from the first mistake by helping me do the online set-up. We worked with it for the several days of my daughter's visit--both of us getting frustrated in different degrees. When she left I told her to take it with her: get it working, trash it, sell it, give it away--just get it out of my house.
After Christmas, when life began to get back to normal (meaning I got to my usual events like knitting with my friend every Tuesday and Thursday lunchtime), I began to think again about walking at the Y more often (walking having become a casualty of the cold weather and high winds). Talked it over with my knitting friend, and she suggested I get one like her mother's--easy to set up and use, no online syncing required. Sounded just the ticket for this dinosaur.
Forgot to ask what brand it was her mother had--looked all over the local stores for something easy-peasy--finally remembered the all-important question of brand name. Got that information. Not available in my local stores. Drove to a neighboring city--they were out. After I stopped banging my head against the wall, it occurred to my addled brain (not enough oxygen due to not enough walks at the Y) to order the thing online. I do that often--ordering, I mean--and love the convenience of having books, sweatshirts, shoes, and movies arrive at my door even on the least-clement days. Why not a step counter?
I've had the step counter on my arm for the past three days. It counts steps (if my arms are swinging), figures how much of a mile my steps add up to, tells me how many calories I'm burning with each event (walking, sitting, sewing), tells me the total number of calories I burn in a day (sadly, usually less than I'm intaking), and provides me with time and date.
For $9.99. Plus tax. No shipping. (Yes, I got a deal.)
So the chronicle of the step counter is pretty much over. I got it. It works. I'm satisfied.
Well, the business of being addicted to "steps" isn't over. Just a quick glance through my bookshelves shows the following:
31 days to [something or other]
5 quick ways to [whatever]
9 tips for [painting, I think it was]
7 steps on the writer's path
How-to books multiply like coat hangers in dark closets. And every single one of them, even without the telltale 31, 5, 9, or 7 is about the steps that will lead you to success in [pick your subject].
Some sly authors (or maybe their editors) hide their step-counting:
The Art of _____
The Craft of _____
On and on and on.
What is it with our modern life? Do we need--really need--to have our lives laid out in boxes, and lists, and steps to follow?
Or is it something more? Like "guaranteed success"? As I scan those telltale titles, I conclude that each day/way/tip/step carries with it the unspoken promise of success. All you have to do is . . . .
There's an aroma of snake oil about this.
Could be, though, that if you're unsure about something, reading a book or article will give you enough information to make a decision--shall I try this? Or not?
I have to confess, I'm not very adventurous. If I want to learn a new skill--say, Portuguese knitting--I'll watch an online tutorial. Or I'll work with someone who knows how to do that, having hands-on teaching and feedback and a chance to say, "Show me that part again."
What would happen if we just . . . well, jumped right in and tried something? Some adventures might be dangerous; we can forget about those. Others imprudent or foolhardy; probably also not a good choice.
But there are some adventures that might tug at the little kernel of creativity inside us and say, "Come on, try it once. If you fail, you can try again. And again. And maybe even again."
We can read all the "Secrets of _____" or "Winning at _____"; but in the end, it comes down to doing.
I'm going to make a stab at writing a memoir--again. That's been on my personal To-Do List for some time. I've learned a few things by reading memoirs already published, and a few more things by authors who teach memoir writing and share their ideas. (Yes, another how-to book.)
And one thing I've learned: a blog is a mini memoir.
How about that?