I was enjoying a really tasty meal from a Lebanese cookbook. Once, I wouldn’t have considered even trying it. That aversion to the new, the unknown, especially regarding food – that was very much a formative influence. Hence I fell to wondering about what’s changed in me and my relationship to ‘the new’.
Me, You And The New (A Child’s View, Part 2)
It’s quite hard to examine your own attitudes to what arrives, new, in your life. It’s easy to take what you’re familiar with as your boundary, your limit – and to mutely accept that.
Of course you can’t just absorb all that’s new, regardless. I suspect that’s true for all of us. There’s a limit to one’s capacity. Looking at myself, I think I’m being honest when I say I’m naturally curious about things but, yes, within limits.
I’m always interested in trying a new bourbon whiskey, but I decided to draw the line at Scotch whisky – there are too many to get your taste buds around. I like hearing new music but I can’t listen to all that’s out there. I’ll often explore new-to-me sound ‘organically’, following from something I know I like to something I’ve never heard before. (‘If you like this you might like that’ algorithms help take me to fresh things within some reasonable constraints.)
Finding Middle Eastern food for the first time was chance – a ‘just browsing’ shopping experience, a cook book that looked enticing to my ignorant eye, my partner who said ‘try it’. But thereafter it’s been a revelation and that first book has led me down a huge number of different avenues. Yes, ‘Middle Eastern’ is a broad category – but it is nevertheless a boundary.
And so on.
But what was formative? Why am I like this? A reaction to something? A reflection of something? Education? Culture? Social context? My parents were not notably adventurous in food or any other regard. But, crucially, they didn’t block me from doing whatever I wanted to try. And that’s particularly true of when I was a teenager. For that, a lot of credit is due. I can easily think of friends who were treated very differently by their mothers and/or fathers, and who’ve been dealing with the largely negative consequences ever since.
So, for whatever reasons, I (like all of us) live life within limits. And if they’ve not been set for me by my parents they must have arrived for some other reason.
Obviously enough there’s the comfort of the familiar. Yes, there’s the excitement of the new but the new is also, often, a challenge.
But the elephant in the room, if you broadly accept life needing limits, is what you might be missing out on if you don’t explore the new. How do you find a sane middle path to tread?
Arguably … it’s fundamentally sane to be trying to consciously and actively be making sure you are seeking to get best out of your life. You don’t know when your life might end. The seeking is the key issue. The hard part lies in preventing the seeking from being damaging in its own right.