Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Set in my ways

The popular stereotype of oldies is that they're set in their ways, resistant to change. But there's another way of looking at it - they have opinions and habits they've developed over a lifetime, thought about constantly and come to regard as thoroughly sound and sensible. So why give them up in a hurry in favour of the latest fashionable idea?

When you're young, your opinions and habits are young also. You may not have had them for long, they may not be firmly held, and if something more attractive presents itself you may easily be tempted to buy into it. Your convictions may be shallow and swept away by a strong wind.

When I was young, I changed my beliefs frequently. I hadn't thought about them very deeply, and there were always opinions that seemed wiser or more convincing or just more exciting. I was an anarchist, a socialist, a communist, a libertarian, you name it. I shifted my position every month. At one point I declared I was a radical feminist and all mainstream politics was a waste of time.

I'd be in favour of living alone, then cohabiting, then communal living. I'd be rooting for celibacy, then monogamy, then free love. I'd be passionate about renting, then owning a house, then squatting. I just wasn't able to sift the ideological wheat from the chaff, to come to a mature judgment about which beliefs stood the test of time and which were built on sand.

As I grew older, certain ideas stood out as well grounded in reality while others seemed based on delusion and wishful thinking. So yes, I've got a bit set in my ways. For many years now, I've been backing socialism, monogamy, home-ownership and sexual equality. Not forgetting of course rock music, ice cream and lacy dresses.

It's true, I'm more resistant to change than I used to be. If you want me to adopt your beliefs rather than mine, you'll need some very strong arguments. If you haven't any, then kindly stop knocking on my door.

PS: And how about entrenched habits, I hear you ask. Well, there's vegetarianism, thriftiness, politeness, neatness, asking awkward questions, looking in people's windows....

22 comments:

Jenny Woolf said...

But it's really important to step outside your comfort zone and keep learning. Otherwise you discover the world has moved on and left you stuck !

John Gray said...

"looking in peoples' windows"
you know steve... this used to be my favourite pastime when I lived in sheffield
at 10pm in hillsborough I used to walk my WelshTerrier,Finlay ..and always had a good neb into the front rooms of the terraced houses that bordered the park!!

loved it!

Nick said...

Jenny - Oh, I step out of my comfort zone a lot. In fact I find being in this world a distinctly uncomfortable experience a lot of the time. And I'm always willing to learn, I'm an intensely curious person. Which is why I ask all those awkward questions.

John - Fun, isn't it? I love glimpsing beautiful furniture and pictures. And pampered pets. And amorous couples.

nursemyra said...

I'm with John too, looking in other people's windows is always fun

Nick said...

Myra - I looked in your window the other day. Goodness me, the things you get up to....

John Gray said...

humm
I usually saw striped wallpaper and nasty dados... and the occassional bloke in his boxers

secret agent woman said...

Coming to a set of beliefs through much discernment is fine, as long as we don't shut ourselves down to new information and ideas. But there does seem to be a trend toward increased conservatism and general grumpiness as we age (the research actually shows that men, in particular, get increasingly grumpy) which is a less appealing set of traits.

Baino said...

Who's Steve? You're all a bunch of voyeurs and I'm glad my nearest neighbour is 500m away! They'd need a telescope to see what I get up to.Yeh i guess we do get set in our ways to a small extent although frankly, the older I get, the less I know.

Nick said...

John - Striped wallpaper and nasty dados? Hardly worth peeking! And most guys in their boxers are not much to look at....

Secret Agent - Having a few long-held beliefs needn't mean you're closed to new ideas. I'd happily change my beliefs if I heard some persuasive arguments against them. And yes, men do seem to get grumpier than women. Why is that?

Nick said...

Baino - Indeed, who's Steve? True, you have an enviable degree of privacy in your sprawling property. I suppose there's a difference between having firm beliefs and being so set in your ways you simply reject everyone else's opinions out of hand.

kylie said...

you have never asked an awkward question

Nick said...

Kylie - Are you sure about that?

Rummuser said...

Except for my regular trysts with my crossword puzzles, I have not been allowed to have a comfort zone or get set in my ways. My life has been a series of new ways of living and making adjustments and as much as I would like to settle down to doing things my way and in my time and within my value frameworks, I am still not getting there. I have simply learnt to accept that as my lot and keep plugging away.

Nick said...

Ramana - Well, I suppose we all have to adjust to new circumstances - deaths, illnesses, divorce, new jobs, new homes, children, grandchildren. Even firm beliefs have to be revised in the light of new situations. Sometimes that's disappointing, sometimes it's liberating.

wendy house said...

and some opinions remain constant like - Twiglets? YUMMY!

Nick said...

Wendy - Oh yes, I love Twiglets. Once upon a time no party was complete without a giant bowl of them. I still love Hula Hoops too. You see how set in my ways I am?

kylie said...

not of me, nick.

Nick said...

Kylie - Well, that's good to know. Or maybe not. Maybe I haven't asked you the truly revealing questions. I've just been hovering on the margins of your inner being.

Liz said...

Oh looking in people's windows, well, you've got to, haven't you?

Nick said...

Liz - Well, no, you haven't. But is there anyone out there who can resist the temptation?

blackwatertown said...

A bit like Jenny Woolf said - good to have views and philosophy - but good also to subject them to test and challenge - just in case they've become a bit rubbish without you noticing.

Nick said...

Blackwater - Oh, I never assume my opinions are the ultimate truth, I'm always testing them and listening to different views. It's just that my existing views tend to stick because they've been well tested already!