My sprained knee is killing me. A tiny mistake has such a huge consequence. Now I can’t go rollerblading or ice skating until my knee recovers. Yesterday, my wife said she couldn’t wait to see the day I abandon both ice skating and rollerblading. Her words hit me like a brick. She made me realize the questions I had been asking myself all along.

Why am I doing these sports at forty-something? I am obviously not competing or anything like that; therefore, what am I trying to prove? Why am I putting myself at risk, especially rollerblading at the skate parks? Why don’t I just quit?

I obviously like the health benefits of these two similar sports. These are the only types of exercise I do these days. Walking, running, and even biking bored me. I just can’t see myself doing those activities to keep myself healthy. I needed a bit more fun and challenge, but there’s something deeper than that.

What rollerblading and ice skating give me are progression. I thrive on progression. Progression has become an integral part of my life. When I chose web design as a profession, I had committed to learn and to make progress. I read books and online articles everyday to keep up with the industry. I spent countless hours learning Flash and ended up abandoning it. So much time was wasted. These days, I have not followed the web industry as much as I should and I have been out of the game. I haven’t touched a framework. My interests had changed. I am focusing more on literature than technology. I turned to writing and reading.

With almost 20 years into blogging, I had made progress in both writing in English and Vietnamese. I am not a good writer, but the process of writing has come much easier to me. I used to dread writing. Now I can just write down anything on my mind. Reading has helped me write better. For example, I am reading a Vietnamese novel and the author writes in such a natural prose. She has reaffirmed that I can use plain and simple words to make my writing engaging. That’s what I loved about the simplicity of the Vietnamese language. It doesn’t have to be sophisticated.

When I enrolled into the graphic design graduate program at George Mason University School of Arts, I made progress with my design skills. I started to pick up typography and dived deep into its fascinating history as well as its current progression. After I earned my MA in graphic design, I needed to pick up something so I continued to progress and that was when I started ice skating and rollerblading. I don’t want to be a great skater, I just want to make progress. As someone who could barely stand on his skates, I can now drop into a half pipe at the skate parks or jump in the ice rink.

Taking ice skating lessons stressed me out. I had to put in extra time to practice because I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of my classmates. I had to do well on the tests and that put me under even more pressure, but I felt great after I had made some progress.

To make progress, I can’t seem to let myself relax. I constantly have to do something in order to make me feel like I am making progress. That’s the bad side of it. I fear that I will have a breakdown one day and just do nothing for the rest of my life. If I stop making progress, I’ll become useless and my life won’t have a purpose.