Interrogator: "Is that a fair thing to say? That you've been under the influence of other people?"
Interrogator: "No, really? I find that most remarkable. I mean, aren't we all under the influence of others? It's part of being in the world. Somebody in the office is in a bad mood, pretty soon everybody's in a bad mood. We're all influenced by other people."
—Babylon 5, Episode 4.18, "Intersections in Real Time"
To avoid one problem I have with writing—the strong feeling that I am repeating myself, leading to being super redundant, pointless and boring—I'll try a new tack.
For many of the various things I feel I've learned over the years, often I can point back to one or more specific things which led me there.
And rather than just expound on my various philosophies & heresies here, I think it will be more interesting to write about where some of these things came from (when I have particular things I can point back to).
This sort of rhymes with my wish to post about #ExcellentThings as well.
On some level, these kind of posts are just another series of 'Things What I Like'. But they are specifically things that I recall often, that I can point to as having had a lasting effect on my thinking.
Another part of wanting to post about these is to leave a trail for my son to find someday, helping to explain 'why was Dad like that, anyway?'.
#Influences: On Change
I was an avid reader of DC's The Question, by Denny O'Neil and Denys Cowan.
O'Neil used a lot of Eastern philosophy in his dialogue and plots, which was fairly interesting as a counterpoint to the Rand and Heinlein and so forth I was reading as a teen.
Of all the interesting thoughts and quotes that came out of it, the one that has stuck with me for decades is from the finale of a three-part crossover with Green Arrow and Batman, titled "Fables". (For an extensive exploration of that story, with scans of many panels, visit that link.)
Skipping the very very long setup, the line I come back to is spoken across a stormy ocean from a dying sensei to the main character Vic Sage (who is still immature, quick to anger and so forth).
The world was roaring around me...the wind shrieking, the water pounding and hissing.
I can't be sure I heard the old man's voice... I don't know if he really said it...
—The Question, Annual #1, "Fables Part III" by O'Neil, Cowan & Magyar, 1988
"I was once like you.
If you live, you will change."
it's a versatile idea, approachable from several angles:
If you live, you will change. If you continue to live, you will continue to change.
The only way you will stop changing is to stop living. You are never a "finished" person until you have no more breaths.
Assuming that you will change, that more changes are coming: will you deliberately attempt to become better, or inattentively change to become more calcified, more rigid, more of the same?
I come back to this whenever I get pushed out of my comfort zone, or when I have clearly made a bad mistake.
It's an egotistical thing to think that my behavior is as good as it really ought to be in all ways, in all situations. I can improve, and frankly as an adult human I should be capable of improving. And one's friends and spouse can give you a nudge at times by helpfully pointing out when, e.g., you have been a real ass. And it's helpful to see that as guidance for your future changes.
A discussion of 'change' would not be complete without the other thing that reliably leaps to mind any time it comes up:
Benjamin: How would you feel about making a change?
Garth Algar: We fear change. <hits nearby machine with hammer repeatedly>
—Wayne's World, 1992 (clip)