Originally published Wednesday, October 11, 2017 at 06:00a.m.
“When was the last time you did something for the first time?”
When I heard Darius Rucker’s invitation to spontaneity on my car radio, I immediately knew I had a topic for this week’s column.
The catchy song (on Rucker’s new album, due October 20) does not demand a total makeover, a perpetual bachelorette party or a formal Bucket List; but it does point out how people can get in a rut and forget how to grow or have fun.
(Rucker, of course, has refused to stand still himself, transitioning from lead vocalist for rock act Hootie & the Blowfish to a successful country music career.)
Yes, facing 21st-century pressures, too many of us have retreated to our comfort zones, given up on our dreams and silenced our inner child. But don’t think that old Adam had it so easy back in the brand-new Garden of Eden, either. (“Yes, Eve, I just did something for the first time. And something else for the first time. And something else for the first time. Oh, I wish I could swap some Forbidden Fruit for earplugs!”)
Learning another language, embracing a new hobby, reimagining your hairdo or traveling somewhere exotic can be healthy for your brain, creating new neural pathways â€’ assuming you WANT to provide top-grade cuisine when the Zombie Apocalypse hits. (“Shamble along. Nothing to munch here. Just wearing my favorite sweatpants, eating my beans and taters and re-reading last week’s ‘Enquirer.’”)
Unfortunately, some people in the states with the highest use of cannabis may not realize they AREN’T doing new things. (“Dude! I found this little bristly stick for scrubbing my teeth! Who has been keeping this technological marvel from me? And what are these hairy little things above my eyelids???”)
Other people are just in bull-headed DENIAL about needing to vary their activities and adjust their attitudes. (“Of COURSE I keep changing things up. Monday I called an old white man a racist. Tuesday, I called a YOUNG white man a racist. Wednesday, I called an old white woman and her granddaughter racists. Thursday, I called an off-white crash-test dummy of indeterminate age and national origin a racist...”)
Me? Rucker extols “letting your hair down,” but it’s more like my hair has let ME down. But I digress.
Personally, I do a sort of triage with challenges in my life. First are the milestones I have actually taken a chance on and achieved (flying to New York City by myself, sampling calamari, getting married, buying a house, becoming a father, buying something other than a PRE-OWNED car for once in my life, learning to enjoy coffee, etc.).
Then there are things I could probably be persuaded to try, such as singing karaoke, completing my book of marriage advice and taking a stab at being a motivational speaker.
Finally, there are the things I would still have to be dragged into kicking and screaming, such as riding a macho roller coaster.
Yes, I’m the king of vicarious living. I’m satisfied admiring other people’s Christmas decorations and Halloween costumes. My weak stomach and mature disdain for emergency room bills make me leery of all but the tamest amusement park rides. Even family games are risky. (“Wait, wait...don’t URP SINK my battleship. Just let me fly a white flag and slowly sail it to dock. Oh, no - the commissary is serving blowfish casserole!”)
Danny welcomes email responses at email@example.com and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.” Danny’s weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.