I once had a boss, Dr. Ed, who was a well-respected accident reconstructionist. I worked for him for nearly fifteen years. He was a tall, deep-voiced, imposing man who tended to terrify people who didn’t know him—but in truth he was big hearted and caring, not to mention brilliant. And moody and complicated and completely exasperating! But he considered his staff his family, and we loved him. When I first met him, he was eyeball deep into cycling—as in really nice road bicycles. He had all the gear, several bikes, and would go out on the weekends to participate in races. Being a cyclist meant he also held himself to a very strict diet and exercise regimen. He wasn’t one to devote himself to something half-heartedly. He was also interested in firearms. He took every course he could find, learned the mechanics of them, learned to shoot them and educated himself on every bit of minutia there was to know. He earned all the certifications there were to earn. Soon, he was being called not only to consult and testify regarding fifteen car pileups–but also incidents involving firearms.
But Dr. Ed wasn’t finished challenging himself yet. Next, he spent a few years learning everything about Harley Davidsons, and acquiring several beautiful bikes and a show trailer, etc., etc. Then, he started racing. First, he bought and raced Dodge Vipers. Then, Ferraris. He didn’t just race them. Like all of his “hobbies” he learned everything about them—he even traveled to Italy to tour the factory and see how they were built. As an engineer, he was intrigued by the mechanics and performance dynamics of all vehicles. They presented a host of complex problems to him. Problems he wanted to solve! I still remember a funny moment when, completely bewildered, he told me his driving instructor said he was too analytical, overthinking every moment on the race track, and that he needed to learn to rely on his instincts. He had a really hard time with that, as you can imagine. Even funnier was when he called to say he was at a driving course with a guy who “was in some band called AC…DC…” Had I ever heard of it? He had not, that he could recall. Dr. Ed was a little sheltered from popular culture in that way. As you can see, I remember him as a bit larger than life. He was, and suddenly, out of the blue, he was gone from our lives. At his funeral, we all gathered at the race track and in our own vehicles and followed the hearse around until they waved the checkered flag when he crossed the finish line.
I learned A LOT from Dr. Ed, and he made a real impression on my life. Not just mine. When my son was about five years old, Dr. Ed gave him a poster of him driving his Ferrari and autographed it for him. My son still remembers going to watch Dr. Ed race. Just yesterday, my now 16 year old son put that poster in a new frame and hung it on his wall and that got me thinking about how eleven years later, he’s still a part of our lives.
Dr. Ed inspired me to always be a work in progress. To never stop being interested in new things, and learning and bettering myself. While I don’t have his very hard-earned and well-deserved budget, I know budget really doesn’t matter. For example, for the past year, I’ve been teaching myself Spencerian handwriting.
It’s a small thing, and although I’m not very good, I love it. This example, from the Fountain Pen Network is what I aspire to…
My handwriting, as an adult, wasn’t so great, probably because of my reliance on the computer. Not only did I want to improve it, but I love the historical aspect of beautiful cursive writing, and it pains me that kids aren’t learning even the basics in school today. That’s the subject for another blog, though.
Another challenge I’d like to tackle, but haven’t yet…public speaking. I’m awful at it. I love people. I can talk to anyone. But put me up on a stage with a podium and microphone and … something in my brain trips a breaker and I start speaking in tongues. I need to join Toastmasters…just the thought terrifies me. Ha! I may immerse myself in the art of French cooking first.
What about you? What’s something you are currently learning or is there something you would like to learn how to do? Tell me, because I may decide I need to learn it too!