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Rocky View Publishing reporter on mission to learn new things

By: Matt Durnan

  |  Posted: Thursday, Mar 06, 2014 11:08 am

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Now seems like as good a time as any to buck the theory that you canít teach an old dog new tricks.

With my 29th birthday come and gone on March 4, as does the realization that I now have less than one year to (truthfully) tell people that Iím in my 20s, Iíve made a decision that this will be the year of learning new things.

I figure I pretty much skated through my 20s by simply being in my 20s and as I prepare to enter the next decade of my life, I should bring some interesting skills or talents with me.

When I think about any kind of unique skills I have, theyíre a bit limited. Iíve never excelled at any musical instruments, I canít juggle or hold my breath under water for an extended amount of time.

In a world where millions of ďhow toĒ videos are at your fingertips thanks to YouTube and dozens of other websites, itís actually quite embarrassing that I donít know how to do more than I do.

Why havenít I ever learned how to juggle? Iím fairly athletic and coordinated, Iím sure a quick Google or YouTube search and a few hours on a weekend are all it would take to get the basics down.

If I wasnít so lazy Iím sure I could learn at least 10 or 15 card tricks over the span of a weekend as well.

The last thing I taught myself to do was solve a Rubikís cube, which was also thanks to a video tutorial I found online and a little bit of time commitment. Other than that, I canít really recall the last time I acquired a new skill. Perhaps teaching myself how to backflip off a diving board while at my cottage one summer many years ago?

Who knows, Iíve basically been coasting off the same, limited, ďcoolĒ things that Iíve known how to do for quite a while now, and itís about time I changed that.

Earlier this year, I wrote a column about how I donít really make New Yearís resolutions and it may be kind of hypocritical that Iím using the calendar as a reason to make this decision to become awesome in more ways than ever before, but with the clock ticking, itís not long before Iím just another 30-something without anything unique to show off.

Where does one start though when looking to acquire a very special set of skills? Iíd imagine starting with something fairly easy would be the best bet, so as to avoid early frustration and inevitably quitting.

Am I too old to learn how to walk on my hands? I donít want to risk losing my security deposit after a series of falls destroys the walls in my apartment. Break dancing seems to present the same risks.

Are there any musical instruments that are quick to learn? The last instrument I took any kind of formal training in was the recorder in Grade 6 and my skill range hit its ceiling with learning to play Mary had a Little Lamb. Iíve always thought the harmonica was a really cool instrument to know how to play, but I doubt my roommate would be fond of me practicing at all hours and blowing a series of incoherent notes.

Lock picking would be a great skill to learn, but I feel like that would get me in more trouble than anything else. Tying a cherry stem with your tongue always seems to impress at bars, though I already know a sneaky way to cheat on that one.

Are yo-yo tricks still cool? Were they ever cool? Would I get weird looks if I was that guy that just walked around with a yo-yo all the time?

Maybe I should first learn the skill of actually coming to a decision. Help me out here readers, send me an email at with a skill or trick or something that I should attempt to learn before I turn 30.


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