Help me explore the infinite abyss and become a more well-rounded, interesting person!
June 17, 2007 11:41 AM   Subscribe

Help me break the bread of life and feast on the warm ooey gooey goodness inside. This summer I’ve set out with the goal of each week finding / experiencing / learning about / having 1 new, awesome experience that I haven’t had before. And I'd like to hear your suggestions/anecdotes/experiences for cool stuff I should do.

Backstory: I’ve grown tired of the same 4 walls and going to the same parties and same bars with the same people in my spare time. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ditching my friends, I just want at least once a week to do something new, something cool, something that I’ll learn and grow from.)

For instance, in these first few weeks I’ve:
- Snorkled and spearfished
- Feng shei-ed my life
- Learned how to open a champagne bottle with a sword (or large butcher knife in my case)
- Learned how to salsa dance (at least the basics)

Upcoming plans:
- Volunteering at a local shelter
- Make sushi by hand
- Successfully organize a flash mob
- Taking a class on orchid growing

So, in general, I’m looking for stuff that is:
* Wacky - What are cool, wacky things I should try out? (I.e. opening a bottle of champagne with a sword)

* Adventurous - What are some adventurous daytrip experiences you’ve had that have been cool/enriching? (I.e. Renting motorcycles and driving down the coast.)

* Personal growth - What has been a great personal experience for you? (I.e. Climbing Mt. Kilomanjaro or screaming into the infinite abyss)

* Educational - What are things that everyone should know/experience/learn in their life? (I.e. Take a tour of the local recycling plant. Even practical things, like, how to tie a Windsor knot. Or how to filet fish.)

All suggestions are welcome!

The adventurous / educational / wacky / personal growth categories were just something I thought up. Cheaper options are generally preferred, but I definitely want to hear about them all! And if your suggestion takes more than a week, that’s cool too. Everything is welcome!

I’m looking to use this as a resource for planning my summer (I’m hoping this summer plan will just become a way of life) and hopefully, it’ll spur some Mefites to go out drink from the cup of life experiencing these things too!

(P.S. I’m in South Florida, if that can add any options.)
posted by jkl345 to Human Relations (30 answers total) 115 users marked this as a favorite
Learn how to tie knots. Start with the essentials and try some more fanciful or decorative. Tying various tie (as in the article of clothing) knots is a essential manly art. If you really want to get hardcore, try to find the Ashley Book at a local library. Knowing a variety of knots and when to use them is an essential skill for all sorts of trades from sailing to theater rigging and mounting climbing.

Learn to play Go.

Learn how to play an instrument, and learn music theory (the latter is somewhat meaningless without the former, but will increase your enjoyment of music).

Learn to handle and fire a gun? A sword? A bow and arrow?
posted by phrontist at 12:01 PM on June 17, 2007

Rock climbing / indoor wall climbing
posted by one_bean at 12:05 PM on June 17, 2007

Lots of karst and caves in South and central Florida, many of which are also SCUBA diveable. Find a local caving group? Definitely shakes up your worldview to go underground.
posted by Rumple at 12:06 PM on June 17, 2007

Miami Extreme Sports Club (free to join).
posted by Rumple at 12:10 PM on June 17, 2007

Take an improv comedy course--being up on stage with no idea what you're going to say next, building a story with your fellow performers, is an exhilarating experience.

I don't know what the hiking options are like in South Florida, but wilderness expeditions are excellent growth experiences--pushing yourself a bit beyond your limits physically, with the payoff of stunning scenery and the cameraderie of your hiking partners. It's amazing how good campfire food tastes after a day of exertion. (Also, in re: screaming into the abyss, take the opportunity to howl at the moon. It feels good.)
posted by fermion at 12:19 PM on June 17, 2007

Best answer: -get a bike and learn to do basic bike maintenance
-learn to cook various things - bread, chocolate, bbq, etc.
-learn about wines
-learn to do basic car repair (change oil, change brake pads, etc)
-learn to do basic carpentry
-learn to do card tricks and good basic shuffle and deal. Learn rules for different games. Learn about poker.
-learn camping skills - how to set up a tent, how to pick a campsite, start a fire, use a campstove, etc.
-learn to kayak or canoe
-get first-aid and CPR certified
-learn to tie the basic knots, and what they're good for
-learn to sail - taking a course with a dinghy shouldn't be too expensive - or windsurf. (Windsurfing requires a lot more basic strength and athleticism than sailing, if this helps you choose)
-learn to surf
-learn/develop athletic skills like swimming the basic strokes, throwing, catching, hitting a baseball, running, etc.
-try gliding/soaring - flying a plane with no engine. This will not be cheap to do as an ongoing hobby, but not prohibitive to try once.
-try a yoga class. (look at a place like YMCA first to see if they have low-cost classes)
-learn woodworking, glassblowing, welding, pottery, etc - see if there are classes or artisans in your area
-try getting into bartending
-learn to knit (though, south Florida may decrease your enthusiasm for this)
-learn to build and fly a kite
-try ethnic foods that you haven't tried. Try weird foods that are outside your comfort zone.
-learn a musical instrument - harmonica, recorder, the spoons are some cheap ones

The Dangerous Book for Boys has been getting some attention lately for being full of interesting tidbits of the sort you're interested in. Any old Boy Scout handbook would similarly be full of ideas.

See also these related previous AskMe threads.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:20 PM on June 17, 2007 [2 favorites]

-start learning Spanish. Anything you do that will open up the chance to travel outside the US is an excellent step. Travel is just about the most broadening experience there is.
-learn to draw - Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is the go-to starter course. If you actually do the exercises in it, you will get a lot better. Probably some place in your area has live figure-drawing sessions where you could get some advice and get practice drawing from a real model.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:29 PM on June 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

I am trying to think of things that you could do within one week.

Make a meal entirely from a type of food you are not familiar with and have a few friends over to eat it (I made a 5 course German meal)

Go to an author's book-reading at a local bookstore/university

Say yes to everything everyone asks you and see where it leads you. This guy did it.

Make a goal of doing say, 3 good deeds a day. Then try to do that without anyone knowing about it.

If you are spiritually inclined, go to a religious service of a religion that you are completely unfamiliar with.

When you have 2 or more free days, get on an interstate and drive in any direction. Go far away and stop in all the small forgotten places and talk to people. Take pictures along the way of intersting things and only turn around when you really need to get home.
posted by triggerfinger at 12:31 PM on June 17, 2007

I would second fermion on the hiking and wilderness experiences. Get away from civilization and be in nature. Give yourself time to think and be alone without the distractions of modern convenience, and even without the excitement of extreme sports.

As far as I know, the best option for this in South Florida is to canoe in the Everglades. Do a day trip or two to get your bearings, and then go out for an overnight trip if you can make the time.

There is no more tried-and-tested means of personal growth than being alone with nature. You can even pitch your tent right on the water, on one of these .
posted by yoz420 at 12:32 PM on June 17, 2007

If you have ANY musical skill at all (as in you can make a non-ear-shattering noise come out) find a streetcorner and busk for a while, just to see what kind of response you get, and the people you meet.
posted by pupdog at 12:35 PM on June 17, 2007

Attend a criminal trial in your county.
posted by kellygreen at 1:13 PM on June 17, 2007

Your request is screaming out for LSD, my friend, if you haven't tried it before. This is an excellent way to meet all of your stated needs:

-exploring the infinite abyss and becoming a more well-rounded and interesting person: YES
-wacky: YES. Walls shifting and pulsating, everything incredibly funny in ways you never before realized.
-adventurous: YES. you will go to places that jets can't take you to.
-personal growth: YES. It will change your perspective on yourself and your relationship with reality forever.
-educational: YES. Perception is a very fluid and precarious thing, and reality is a construct largely built in your mind.
-cheap: anywhere from $5 to $15, depending on local supply / demand.

Enjoy your summer, jkl345! If you have any further questions my email is in my profile.

(IAAP but IANYP, LSD may be illegal in your jurisdiction)
posted by Meatbomb at 1:32 PM on June 17, 2007 [2 favorites]

One day meditation retreat. (Meditation is how you earn transcendence -- it's the real infinite abyss.)
posted by salvia at 1:53 PM on June 17, 2007

- Do some volunteer work at a home for the elderly - you will learn SO much and make a real difference in their lives.
- Learn to surf or windsurf
- Build the largest sand castle you can, before the tide destroys it
posted by gemmy at 2:52 PM on June 17, 2007

Borrow a video camera (if you don't already own one) and make a short documentary film (maybe about something interesting near where you live, or about an interesting person in your life with a good story to tell).
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:05 PM on June 17, 2007

Visit your local planetarium. Some of them offer tours where you can look through their giant telescopes and see wacky stuff like the rings of Saturn, the stripes of Jupiter, and faraway galaxies. Alternatively, see if there are local astronomy-club events you can attend.
posted by booth at 4:18 PM on June 17, 2007

Best answer: Eat as a vegan for a week.
Camp out under the stars with no tent. (this may not work in Florida...too many mosquitoes?)
Research and put together an emergency survival kit for your car and house.
Work at a voting booth location one election.
Donate blood.
Trapeze class.
I went to Mexico with a church group once and we built an entire house (sans plumbing/electricity) in a single day.
Your local community/rec education probably has lots of 1-day seminars and workshops where you can learn about composting, finances, real estate, etc etc etc, along with many exercise/hobby/lifestyle classes.

43 Things and 101 in 1001 have lots of ideas, although a lot of them will be a much longer time commitment than 1 day/week...
posted by sLevi at 5:10 PM on June 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

A great way to challenge oneself is to broaden ones sexual horizons. Experiment with dominance and submission. Fool around with someone you wouldn't normally fool around with. Try a threesome! You will likely learn something about yourself in the process, and you may find a new sexual outlet that you really enjoy.
posted by Xazeru at 5:35 PM on June 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

DIY a clambake! Gather some friends because doing it yourself takes all day. (plus, more fun to eat with others) This wouldn't necessarily be New England-specific, I think.

If I remember correctly from when my dad and his friends did it, you should get several small, metal trash cans with lids. You put in your clams, your lobsters, your mussels, your corn-on-the-cobs, your sausages, your potatoes, etc. Between layers you can put down seaweed for flavor.

I found this and it seems to have some good advice.

Once you find a beach where it's ok to have an open fire, dig a big pit in the morning and load it up with plenty of firewood - you'll need it to be hot all day to slowly cook everything. Put the loaded-up trash cans in the pit amongst the logs and then relax. Go swimming, sunbathe, etc. and then enjoy your meal when the evening hits.

I really loved this as a kid because it was a group project - everyone helped, even the really little kids. We'd be at the beach all day and then eat some really great seafood. And then we'd toast marshmallows over the fire and tell ghost stories. Sometimes we'd go swimming and when I got older we "big kids" would sneak back to the beach afterwards and go skinny-dipping by the light of the moon.

It's really fun and well worth doing with a pack of friends.
posted by sutel at 6:25 PM on June 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Go help with the Katrina rebuilding effort in the Biloxi-Gulport-Pass Christian-Bay St. Louis, Miss., area and in New Orleans. People in those towns still need help, desperately so.

Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity.

Ask the local children's hospital if you could visit with sick kids, play card games, etc. Or become a clown who performs for kids with terminal illnesses.

Become a reader or storyteller at your local elementary school or library.

Sign up with the area literacy council, teach someone how to read and write.

If you've got trees in your yard, build a treehouse. For yourself, of course.

Lie in a hammock and solve the world's problems. Or not.

Go to the animal shelter or humane society and adopt a dog or cat who's about to be euthanized. And make sure it's neutered or will be.

Sew, crochet or knit lap blankets for patients in nursing homes. Or knit and crochet baby caps and blankets for newborns at the local charity hospital.

READ. Fiction, nonfiction, history, philosophy, homebuilding, crafts, autobiographies, etc. You will expand your mind and your world through the printed word.

Visit, call or write friends or relatives you haven't seen in years, especially those from whom you are estranged. If there are very old relatives or friends whose lives may be coming to an end, record their reminiscences, then share the recordings with other relatives and friends.

Just enjoy life. It'll be over too soon.
posted by Smalltown Girl at 6:46 PM on June 17, 2007

- get scuba certified. i know you've already gone snorkeling, but scuba is a completely different animal.
- make paneer (indian cheese)
- brew your own beer
- create and organize a scavenger hunt/clue following puzzle game around your neighborhood for all your friends. make them dress as detectives.
- fold 1000 origami paper cranes

and i third the idea of learning to tie knots.
posted by andshewas at 8:15 PM on June 17, 2007

Best answer: i might get back to you later for some more specific suggestions, but here are a couple of tips:

43 things is a great for coming up with ideas, and useful for advice & encouragement, or finding others with similar plans.

keep a diary for this project. i found myself in a situation like you describe some time ago & set out with a similar ambition, to do something new every week. i kept a written record, and i broke it down into categories like new places visited, new foods/drinks tasted, new people met, new skills learned, new physical activities, new media/cultural/entertainment experiences, even new ideas/thoughts/theories, and so on.

these were recorded on a daily basis, and at the end of the week i would summarise them & vote on which were the best. amongst other things, this allowed me to see if there were certain areas that were being neglected & which needed more variety (like always sticking to the same cuisines, or within the same suburbs).
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:04 PM on June 17, 2007 [2 favorites]

I just went tandem paragliding today. It was frickin' awesome. Do it!
posted by crinklebat at 2:02 AM on June 18, 2007

3 things that changed my life in the last year:

1. Skydiving, for the first time.

2. A week helping gut houses in the lower 9th ward in NOLA.

3. Reading this article on eye contact, and putting it into practice.
posted by allkindsoftime at 9:44 AM on June 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Sail a hobie cat

make chocolate truffles

get a zippo, learn tricks

Brew beer

Make Wine

Built a book self/ table/ other thing

Take your car to a test track. (there is or at least was a place in dallas that let you pay 100 buck and drive your car as fast as you wanted on a real race track.) I think you could borrow a nicer car from them too.

I don't smoke nor do I normally encourage it. But as a Do-It-yourselfer I think that learning how to roll a cigar would be really cool.

make perfume, give it to someone as a gift
posted by magikker at 10:35 AM on June 18, 2007

Response by poster: OMFG! You guys are awesome. Thank you so much!

Any other suggestions, please keep them coming!
posted by jkl345 at 10:57 AM on June 18, 2007

I might be a little late to the party but I suggest a standup comedy class leading to an open-mic night. Do it and the rush and the confidence will stay with you for years.
posted by lpsguy at 12:46 PM on June 18, 2007

- throw a miracle fruit party
- learn to palm small items (coins, etc.)
- learn to whistle
- make a concentrated effort to talk to strangers
- don't drive for a week/month (a.k.a. learn your city's public transportation inside and out)
- try orienteering
- memorize a really good recipe, so you could cook it if you were at a friend's house and you two decided to make dinner
- interview your parents or grandparents, and then write biographies
- sew something
- go hanggliding
- check out obscure museums in your area
- learn to make a really good pie crust
- organize a photo scavenger hunt for friends
- go to goodwill with a friend, and buy outfits for each other - $10 max per person. wear your outfits somewhere interesting
- ride in a hot air balloon
- do something you've always known you're no good at, without worrying about how bad you are at it. For me, that means drawing or painting, or any sport with a ball.
- discover your purpose (didn't work for me the first time, but I tried it a year later after more soul-searching, and... wow.)
- go to dinner and a movie by yourself
- sing karaoke
- learn to walk on your hands, or at least balance in a handstand indefinitely
- read a biography of someone infamous, or someone you've never heard of.
posted by vytae at 2:46 PM on June 18, 2007 [3 favorites]

On the educational/practical side, learn the Doomsday Algorithm. Quirky and useful.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:06 PM on June 18, 2007

Especially because you live in a warm climate, it's definitely not too late to start a few plants that you'll be able to eat this year. (Or flowers that you can give to friends and family.) Here's one list of suggestions for planting right in June. If you don't have your own piece of land, ask someone who does have land if you can borrow a corner of it for the summer -- and of course you'll share the crop with them. If you do it right, you'll learn a little history, a little cooking, a little botany, a little farming, and a little patience.

Commit some poetry to memory. If you don't know where to start, go to the library and find a list of the most popular (such as) and choose some of them. Or get a thin paperback you can carry in your pocket and pull out between other things you're doing.

Go a week without using private vehicles (and no fair getting rides from others). Walk, bike, or hop a public bus or train. This is how most people live.
posted by pracowity at 5:35 AM on June 19, 2007

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