I attended a talk by NPR’s Ira Glass titled, “Seven Things I’ve Learned.” One of the seen way “try things.” Here’s (just a bit) more about his talk, along with some additional thoughts about trying new things.

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Ira Glass, the bespectacled host of NPR’s “This American Life,” came to Tacoma last year with a talk titled, “Seven Things I’ve Learned.” It’s a credit to my aging brain that I’m able to remember a few of those seven things, but among them was the simple, “Try Things.”

Try things?

In his segment about trying things, he used two videos to illustrate how they had experimented with trying new things on This American Life.

The first was a segment where they used a story from This American Life to animate a New Yorker Cover:

The other was when they enlisted Lin-Manuel Miranda to do a “fifteen-minute-musical” from one of the show’s stories. He chose a segment called “21 Chump Street,” and this was the result:

Try things seems so obvious — but is it? How many of us are reluctant to try new things or, at some point, stop trying new things and get stuck in a rut.

Of course, your internal critic might say, it’s easy for a radio show/podcast with a budget to try things! And, then, that inner critic might go on to tell you all the reasons why you shouldn’t or can’t try this new thing.

Of course, you don’t need to try everything, and there are some things you shouldn’t try. But often it’s fear that keeps us from trying new things we might actually want to try. Things that might be good for us or help us grow in some way. We ask ourselves “what ifs,” thinking of the worst possible scenario instead of the best possible scenario. “What if I get in front of this audience and my mind goes blank and I forget everything I’m going to say and everyone laughs at me and I look like an idiot and then I have to hide in my room in shame for a month and…?” instead of, “What if I get up there and speak and I take one step toward getting less nervous speaking in public and it leads to new things?”

Of course, when you try a new thing, you might (and probably will be) bad at it at first (Ira Glass touched on this a bit in his talk to on his early days with NPR). You might have to be willing to be bad at it for a while to get good. Or you might find, after all, it’s not really something you want to do (or eat, or read or…), but at least you tried and learned something about yourself in the process.

And you don’t need to go “all-in” to try something. Baby steps are OK! Tiptoeing into the unknown is often more comfortable than jumping into the dark and screaming, “Here I am!” You can always go all in later when you find the thing you really want to plunge into.

Some danger exists in being a “serial trier.” It’s possible to spend much of your life trying a series of new things. That’s OK, but it takes practice to develop a skill in something. If you’re just trying one thing after another and skimming the surface, you might deprive yourself of becoming an expert at that one thing.

A Zen teacher I know once ended a talk by saying to, “Say, profoundly, “YES!” Some of us close ourselves down and say no much too often and, doing so, shut out new possibilities or feelings of connectedness. But being open doesn’t mean we have to say yes to everything that comes our way.

Having a blog allows me to try things I want to try — photography, video, even sketching — and find out what works here and what I want to do more of. Some of it may not be, exactly, 100% at first…but trying new things — even in teensy-weensy-baby-steps — is fun.

So, try new things — whether it’s that drawing course you want to take (you might be bad at first, but so what?) or walking into that restaurant you’ve been wanting to go to by yourself, or stepping onto that plane and out of your comfort zone.

One more thought from another wise character:  “Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can’t let the world judge you too much.” (Maude, from Harold and Maude.)