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the habits of a lifetime



commentary • 24.11.04

It is probably a simple consequence of age that you become more conventional. I think this happens because it is increasingly difficult to avoid having to work with the world in ways in which it is already ordered - that is by history, by accepted wisdoms and conventions et al. In metaphorical terms it is that certain things get put in certain boxes (rationalised) and although these boxes are subject to being moved around some, they remain pretty consistent. This is tradition and conservatism at work. The mere habits of one lifetime upon another, passed on down the generations, lead to putting things in these same old boxes and, willingly or not, to an acceptance of convention.

One of the more delicious aspects of my own younger adulthood was a feeling of reset, of clearing the table of all the inherited boxes and building some new ones in which to put my contributions to the world. I suppose this is the beauty of youth, the notion that you can to some extent write your own chapter, build your own box. But somehow, with time, the stuff that was cleared from the table finds its way back up again. If lucky or determined enough the new constructions remain but probably more likely they won't and you’ll be left, like everyone else, with the conventions. The new containers were just too flimsy.