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U.S. Navy Master Diver William Badders, after making a record dive of over 500 feet, is helped into his underwater suit just before taking an experimental dive in the tank at Washington Navy Yard on Aug. 9, 1938.

I spent the entire day this past Saturday at the Gray Quarry learning how to scuba dive. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.

I have always loved the water. I took swimming lessons as soon as soon as I was old enough and spent hours at the local pool every day all summer long.

In college, my friends and I spent many free days at the beach or on a sailboat. (Text books in tow, of course.) I envied my friends who had the skill and equipment to snorkel and scuba dive, but I never ventured to try it. I was shy and feared looking foolish.

For me, age has increased my confidence and eliminated my worry about what other people think.

I’ve noticed that other people have experienced that phenomena too — becoming braver with age.

I have a friend who began cello lessons in her late 20s. I remember having a conversation with her about how she felt “too old” to be starting to learn an instrument.

Those first lessons didn’t last long, but 20 years later, she picked it up again — this time with confidence, and now she plays with a string quartet.

When I asked, my younger sister said she’d like to learn how to play the ukulele and fly model airplanes (not at the same time, of course). Her husband said he’d like to try his hand at gold prospecting.

My mom said she’d like to learn to watercolor. I know she could do it; she’s very talented.

It wouldn’t be hard. As the Nike ad says, “Just do it.”

Trying something new doesn’t have to entail a major learning experience or require a lot of time. Nor do you have to be working on your “bucket list.”

Some ideas:

  • take a drive through an unfamiliar location
  • visit a local restaurant you’ve never been to
  • pick out an exotic food at the grocery store and make a new recipe
  • visit Greeneville as a tourist and spend the day learning about Andrew Johnson
  • become a volunteer
  • go to the library and try a new author or different genre
  • make friends with someone new to town
  • travel to that place you’ve always wanted to visit

In our technology saturated world, it’s relatively easy to learn new practical skills.

When I bought my new-to-me house two years ago, I used YouTube to learn how to install a freestanding mailbox, how to change a ceiling light fixture, how to fix a loose cabinet hinge using toothpicks, and how to safely use a circular saw.

If you happen to be coming to technology late, the library will begin a new series of computer classes in early September. Classes start with the very basics of getting to know the computer hardware and each successive class builds new skills.

Attending the series of classes won’t make someone a computer expert, but they’ll learn the skills needed to perform basic functions like sending and receiving email, using online resources, and creating documents. This foundation will give students the confidence to keep learning and exploring with a computer.

I have had people tell me that they feel “too old” or are embarrassed because they haven’t already gotten comfortable with technology.

My response, naturally, is that no one is ever too old to learn a new skill. Starting now just means they didn’t have to learn all the previous incarnations of operating systems, internet browsers and software. Lucky!

The library’s free computer classes are open to anyone. Please call the library or visit the library’s website for detailed information. Space is limited.

One of my favorite actresses, Ruth Gordon, has been quoted as saying, “Try something new each day. After all, we’re given life to find it out. It doesn’t last forever.”

I don’t think I actually try something new each day, but I do look for opportunities to vary my routine.

I’ll finish my book lessons for scuba diving on Thursday and hopefully complete the last three learning dives on Saturday. If I’m successful, I’ll earn my “open water scuba diving certification” — something I’ve wanted to do since I was 19.

We’re never too old to pursue our dreams or learn something new.

In fact, maybe that’s the secret to staying young.

A graduate of University of California Los Angeles, Erin Evans is an avid reader and seamstress, and loves serving her adopted community of Greeneville as library director. Off The Shelf is published monthly in Greene County’s Accent.