This might be ignorant of me, but I’m putting these thoughts into the public space so that 20 or 30 years from now you can call me out on being wrong about myself, OK? That’s the informal agreement you’re entering into with me by reading this.
It seems from my vantage point that many people reach a point in their lives where they close themselves off to new things. This could be new scientific discovery, new art, new political thought, new music, or even simple things like new habits, new personal preferences, new beliefs about the simple, everyday things of life.
I think that’s kinda sad. I don’t want that to be me. My aim in writing this is to make a public commitment that I will not allow that in myself, ever.
There is so much flavor and nuance and amazement and beauty in the world, it is practically packed to the gills with it. Why shut yourself off from that? Maybe at first glance you don’t perceive it’s there, but don’t turn away just yet. Look a little deeper. Trust what your friends and loved ones tell you through their own amazement and enjoyment, and spend the time.
As we get older, we often have even more of that kind of time, so one would think as a person gets older they’d be using that time to expand their horizons. It seems that’s often not the case. My “ignorance alarm” tells me there’s so much I don’t understand yet about life and aging, and that once I get there I’ll see why. We shall see. But my intention is to always broaden myself.
Having said that, I totally understand that there’s no moral obligation to enjoy new things. Or even to notice them. So I’m not arguing that it is wrong to stop learning and changing. I mean, hey, if something is perfect, you’d be wrong to change it, right? But the chances that something is perfect are incredibly, extremely, ridiculously low. Believing you’ve found perfection should at least call for healthy skepticism.
I also acknowledge that there are areas of life that I have literally no interest in. Certainly, no one is obligated to love literally every activity and every subject. But I think a person isn’t living their full life when they close themselves off more and more over time from more and more things, drawing inside themselves, disconnecting and becoming calcified.
So let’s not say that calcification is a normal part of aging. Let’s not accept it in ourselves and others. Encourage the people you love to live their lives as broadly as they can, with as much connection as they can. And when you see calcification happening in your own life, fight it!