Tuesday, August 5, 2008

On Paintball and Perseverance

I think if someone offered me immortality, I might take it. I've found the general idea to be that living forever defeats the point of life, a thing inherently ephemeral, but it's almost a shame how much there is to do and how little time to do it. Living in a world so incomprehensibly more massive than a single human life, it's hard not to see sometimes, with brutal clarity, how much there is to experience that you will never experience; how much knowledge left unlearned, places untravelled, happiness untouched and wisdom left to rot in darkness. I've made it my goal in life to learn everything about everything, and each day it strikes me how futile that is, and what an infinitesimal percentage of my endeavour I am likely to acheive. C'est (malheureusement) la vie.

My little brother has a minor obsession with guns. By this I don't mean to say he's a sadistic psychopath talking to himself in the corner and polishing his precious firearms, or a drooling madmad spreading unmitigated carnage wherever he goes. In fact I think obsession is slightly too strong a word. It's more of a keen interest. Lately he's been doing research, reading books (eg. the three day road) and watching shows (eg. flashpoint) that have to do with sniping and rifles and all that jazz. A couple months ago he was very much into nerf guns, (and man, are those fun!) and still has a collection of a dozen or so (I still find velco nerf bullets stuck to my socks...) but now he's become a paintball fanatic. Oh yes, and a month or two ago he bought a PS3 and the game Call of Duty 4, which is about -- guess what -- war! That's also very fun. He plays that game the way your average teenager plays video games, eg. obsessively, and he's looking into buying his own paintball gun. Now all this might alarm some people, but knowing him the way a sister does, it doesn't bother me. He's never shown signs of a penchant for violence and he's not starting now. Him and guns (paintball ones, mostly) is more of a techie geek to computer or mechanic to car type thing. He loves seeing how they work.

It's a bit of a routine with me that every several months I try to teach myself to juggle. I've always wanted to learn how to juggle really, really well, or throw knives, or swallow fire, or balance a plate on a stick on my nose. You know, all those sleight of hand marketplace tricks. I can trace my obsession with that sort of thing back to my favourite book as a child -- Inkheart, by Corneilia Funke -- and my favourite character, Dustfinger the fire eater/juggler/entertainer type person. I've even taken a shot at Poi, a recreational art that stems from New Zealand, which involves balls on the ends of strings held in the hands and swung around the body in increasingly difficult patterns, usually to music. It gets really fun when you buy special Poi which you light on fire and create dazzling displays of dexterity and daredevil... err. Daring. My alliteration gland just died. Anyways, call it pyromania if you like, I would love to do that, and every time I try to learn I usually start with juggling.

As you've probably inferred by my wistful tone, I've never succeeded at any of these things. It seems trivial, but it bothers me slightly that in fifteen years, I haven't been able to learn how to juggle. Now, my brother, when he wanted to learn how to whistle, or do bird calls, or snap his fingers that cool way where you shake your hand really fast; he would practice every waking minute of every bloody day. In restaurants. On planes. Yes, even the bird calls. On the one hand, it was infuriating; on the other hand, it was... well, infuriating. Despite how annoying and publicly embarrassing this got to be, it was admirable how doggedly he practiced, and that irritated me more than any strange looks from neighbouring tables. Ah, to have such mastery of useless talents -- or to have the perseverance and determination to learn them at will! That's one of the top three things I bemoan lacking, (another of which being a boyfriend,) that ability to work hard at trivial tasks. The question I'm slightly apprehensive of one day asking myself is whether I can really work hard at important tasks either, or whether I'm just telling myself I can because my grades are good and my parents haven't complained yet.

So what have I learned today? Paintball hurts like a bitch, and so does self-doubt.

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