Up until he was about 3 years old, my son, Glenn, was a voracious eater, and we were even starting to worry a bit about his weight. Then he did a 180-degree turn and suddenly became a very picky eater — the kind of kid who wouldn’t eat anything he hadn’t eaten before.
I’m sure there are many parents who have gone through the stage where they find themselves saying, “How do you know you don’t like it if you haven’t tried it?” Somehow that logic doesn’t ever work with small children.
From the time Glenn was 4 until he was about 8, we couldn’t get him to try pizza. Then, somehow — I can’t remember how or why — he finally tasted his first slice. Of course, he loved it.
Then one evening about three years later, as we were all at a local pizzeria eating pizza, Glenn announced, “I’m so mad at myself. I didn’t want to taste this until I was 8 years old. I could have been eating pizza for four years between when I was 4 and 8.”
I think there is a life lesson there. How many of us are wasting some good years and some good experiences because we don’t think we will enjoy them — even though we’ve never tried them? As for me, I’ve never been to an opera because I don’t think I would enjoy it. I hadn’t snow-skied until I was about 52 because I was sure I wouldn’t enjoy it. I’ve never skydived for the same reason. (Please don’t try to change my mind on that one.)
But the older I get, the more I find myself regretting not having tried some of life’s adventures, challenges and new experiences. Some of those experiences have passed me by because I am too old to try them now.
Since I just celebrated my 80th birthday, I’ve reluctantly given up my pole-vaulting ambitions, but there’s a lot left that I’m now starting to consider. For example, I’ve been reading some of the old classics that I always promised myself I would but never got around to — Homer’s Odyssey and Illiad, The Art of War by Sun Tzu, the Bible, King Lear and a lot more of Shakespeare, to name just a few.
I applied to be on the 2009-10 Santa Barbara County Grand Jury, I need to take more Photoshop classes and I’m seriously thinking about writing a book. Maybe some of these experiences will be a disappointment. On the other hand, I expect that many of them will result in my regretting not having done them earlier in my life.
Just like my pizza-loving son.
— Paul Burri is an entrepreneur, inventor, columnist, engineer and iconoclast. He is not in the advertising business, but he is a small-business counselor with the Santa Barbara chapter of Counselors to America’s Small Business-SCORE. He can be reached at email@example.com.