Today’s Bloganuary prompt is “What is something you wish you knew how to do?” I glanced at the prompt before bed so it could percolate overnight. Only, since I glanced instead of really focusing, I read it as “what’s something you’d like to learn how to do,” which completely changes my answer.
Wishes require no effort. “Know how to do” means you’ve already learned something. So if I don’t have to put in any effort, what is something I wish I already knew how to do? A million things! Play an instrument, paint brilliant works of art, master calligraphy, sing, dance, knit sweaters, write short stories, skateboard, be brave, take risks.
If I really truly wanted to do any of those things, though, I’d learn them. There is nothing stopping me except time and will. That’s where the wishing part comes in: if I don’t have to do anything, and I could just wake up able to accomplish these things, then heck yeah, give me all of them. Or any of them. I’m not picky.
The fact that I don’t want to spend my time or energy learning how to do those things tells me I don’t really want them that much, though. I’ve tried most of the things on this list, and while I might want to have written beautiful calligraphy, or have knit a beautiful sweater, or be able to make music on an instrument, I don’t enjoy the process that gets me to that end point. I don’t want to have to actually do the thing.
What I’d like to learn how to do is quite a different question. “What’s something you’d like to learn how to do?” includes “what do you want to spend your actual precious time trying at even through a steep learning curve, even through frustration, even if you suck at it?” For that question, there are a couple of things on that list I still want to work at, like writing short stories, or maybe even singing (but probably not).
The thing I thought about as I let the wrong question percolate, though, is conversation. I’d like to learn how to be a good conversationalist. I don’t mean that I want to fill awkward silences and chatter away about nothing just so that it’s not quiet. I like quiet. And mindless chatter is the opposite of good conversation. What I mean is that I enjoy rich, meaningful conversation, and I want to understand better what makes good conversation good so that I can have more of it in my life.