Friday, September 10, 2010

Learn By Doing

Juggling machetes blindfolded on a tall unicycle

Long ago, I read a little humor bit in what was almost certainly The Saturday Evening Post. (Might have been Collier's.) Had to have been in the late-sixties, because they stopped publishing the Post for a while before they brought it back as a quarterly and in other odd incarnations a few years later.

Um. Anyway, how I remember the poetry:

"Put down that physical culture magazine, Junior, and go mow the lawn!

Those bulging muscles that you vouch/ you want won't harden on the couch ..."

As an autodidact, I'm big on learning stuff myself. Before the internet, I spent many quality hours in many libraries teaching myself this 'n' that, but -- some things you can't learn from a book. Like how to swim -- you either get wet or it's complete theory.

So, in regard to assorted discussions we've have here lately on writing, martial arts, and music, my offering for the room:

When it comes to writing, riding a bike, or learning how to play a guitar, it's hands-on. You can continue to augment the doing with research and training, but in the end, if you want to write, it comes down to ass-in-chair. Same with most things that require a physical component -- reading about balance on a bike is not the same as balancing on a bike. The backstroke doesn't work as well on the living room floor as it must in the pool; if you expect to block a real punch, best you block a few practice punches.

Or, as the genius at Weiden & Kennedy advertising put it for Nike, Just Do It.


Dave Huss said...

Too much ass on the couch watching reality TV and not enough doing. I completed scuba diving training last years and am now working on learning how to weld. You and your guitar, like major envy. Keep up the doing.

Travis said...

The genius at Weiden and Kennedy (Weiden in this case) was reading Norman Mailer's "The Executioner's Song" shortly before his meeting with Nike.

Gary Gilmore's last words before facing the firing squad, "Let's do it".