Manliness is a journey, a journey of self discovery and self improvement. And, learning new skills is an integral part of that journey.
So, what new skills has each of us learned, recently?
I've learned to cut my own hair. My flattop is a very precise cut, and a very difficult cut to sculpt, if I believe my barbers...so I took it upon myself to master the cut, over the summer.
Upon making this announcement on another forum, one person even asked me why I would go to all that trouble, when it is so easy to just drive to the barber. And this got me thinking...he was right, because it's simple to just hire someone else. Why do we master new skills? My answer is as follows:
1) Learning a new skill is never a waste of time. It expands my abilities, and makes me a better man.
2) There is a feeling of liberation which comes from the ability to not just do a task, but to do it well.
3) That liberation is especially fulfilling when I go to a barber, now, because I no longer go out of necessity. I'm now able to go, merely, for the pleasure of the experience. I enjoy going to the barbershop...but I no longer *require* the services of a barber.
4) The relatively few barbers in this area (I live in a rural area) who actually do flattops, do not do them to my liking. I've found only 3 within 60 miles that were acceptable, yet I have to come home and fix their cuts more often than not. Continually trying new barbers has, in fact, introduced me to the excitement of barber bouncing.
5) But that presents another problem. My flattop is a very severe cut. When trying a new barber, they are usually reluctant to go so severe on a new client. It's taken me 2 years to train a *single* barber to actually take my flat high and tight. And even so, he will NOT shave the sides and back.
6) You see, ultimately, it's not about the efficiency. If I did a cost/benefit analysis, I'd just wear a zero-buzz. It's the quickest, simplest haircut possible, requiring no barbering skill to do well, and would even minimize the amount of shampoo/water I'd need to use.
I wear a flattop because I *like* the style...and because it looks good on me. And, being able to do my own haircut provides me with additional options.
Kinda' cool, huh?
I certainly hadn't intended to get so philosophical, or so deep...but it just kinda' flowed, once I started writing. And, certain points seemed appropriate to AoM. So, I ask us all. What new skills have we each learned, recently?
Learned every aspect of my home a/c system when trying to troubleshoot it. Still had to replace the whole system, but now I know all the parts and everything they do.
Over the summer, instead of simply floating around the pool or lake I've pushed myself to be a better swimmer.
I watched how to do freestyle videos on Youtube, asked people who did swim and even watched the guys in the Olympics. I discovered my new strength could be put to use as well as getting a good aerobic workout.
So I swam laps whenever I could this summer, or headed out to those buoys far out in the lake.
In the last weeks I noticed, with practice, I could really make some good time if I relaxed and got into the flow.
It's good knowing that, in an emergency I can (if I keep in shape) be a fast and powerful swimmer.
"why I would go to all that trouble, when it is so easy to just drive to the barber."
Wow. Talk about consumerism! I like your answers. I learned to shave my head a few years ago for an opera I was in. I found that it was fun.
But the new skill l undertook this summer was Russian. I'm using the Rosetta Stone software. Its going pretty well. I was most afraid of the cyrillic alphabet, but its not that bad.
I had been telling myself to learn Russian for many years, because there are some great operatic roles in the Russian repertoire...especially for a bass. I was finally spurred into action when one of the choral groups that I sing for decided to open this coming season with the Rachmaninoff "All Night Vigil." Technically, its written in liturgical Slavonic, but Russian is close enough.
Another good thing about learning something new is being able to appreciate that skill. Watching someone complete a task usually looks easier than it actually is. By learning how to do it yourself you can appreciate the skill and the people who do it a little more.
Not as many person-to-person skills as I need. However, I've learned the following:
Maintaining a generator;
How to put in a bottom sill plate on a pre-existing wall (how to cut out and replace that is);
Siding (taking out and re-installing without damaging the siding);
How to put in a brace-wall during repairs;
How to do the above alone in a hurry.
Soon I'll learn how to hang garage doors.
As my father always says "There ain't nothing you can't do if you put your mind to it".
And, you keep it cut more often than you normally would, so it always looks crisp and neat.
It's a great skill to have!
I haven't learned anything new lately...but I soon am going to take up hiking, jogging, biking, maybe kayaking, among other physically active things.
Surely you've learned *something,* Victor. I try to learn something new, every single day. It doesn't have to be big, or monumental, or even seemingly significant...just new.
Last week I learned that the elliptical at my gym, if used in reverse, works an entirely different muscle group. And, those muscles are currently burning, after last night's workout.
Never stop learning!
So, guys, any suggestions as to where can I learn *beginning* weight lifting? All the youtube videos either look like life long muscleheads, or idiots auditioning for the TV show "Jackass." Or, even how to do a pushup without hurting myself...that would be a great starting point. Yep, I'm that weak, in my upper body.
Within the last few months I have started to do some very simple weightlifting. I had wanted to increase my upper body strength and was inspired by the article on here about doing more than one stinkin pull-up. I bought a doorway pull up bar and I started a routine of doing as many pull ups as I could comfortably do with proper form (full extension of the arms) 3 or so days a week, I gradually increased the amount as I felt it was possible for me to do so, I have since added pushups into the mix and found it was nice to have either a mirror I could see myself in or someone to watch me that could tell me if my back was not straight. After awhile of feeling what it should be like it was easier to feel when I wasn't doing it properly. Also, if your upper body is really lacking I wouldn't be afraid of starting to do push ups while standing at a wall (as if the wall is the ground) or on your knees until you build up some strength.
As for a new skill...well this is my first post/reply/correspondence as part of the AOM community if you can call that a skill. Though towards the start of this year I learned to shave with a safety razor (DE) vs. the Mach 3 (five blade monstrosity as a I call it now) and am thoroughly enjoying creating my shaving lather with a badger brush whether it is with a cream or a soap,(my favourite so far is Taylor of Old Bond Street Sandalwood soap) and oh how my skin loves me for it.