It is a myth that old people are set in the ways. As has been discussed here before, it is experience and discernment that are sometimes misunderstood by younger people as refusal by elders to try something new. I tasted dozens of blends of coffee in my life to find the one I like; I’m done with that experimentation now – until or unless my tastes change.
In fact, it is arguable that because elders have more opportunities to cope with big, often sudden life changes – retirement (forced or planned), widowhood, reduced economic circumstances, chronic illness, leaving their homes are a few examples – they are better at adapting than younger people. Survival requires that they be so.
Now, a week into my new digs in Portland, Maine, I’ve discovered not a need to adapt to anything but instead, an unexpected desire to change how I live.
One is a small item regarding that coffee I mentioned. For half a century, it has been my habit to drink about three cups of coffee over the course of the morning. It not only gives me an energy boost, I love the taste and aroma of coffee (not to mention that particular blend it took me years to find) and I don’t give a hoot about the “experts” who periodically warn that coffee will kill us or, at least, do serious damage.
Nevertheless, for the past few mornings, coffee has tasted acidic and heavy to me and I’m ready to experiment with tea perhaps, or maybe just juice. Too bad I bought six pounds of my favorite coffee blend when I left New York City.
I have always risen earlier than most people and although I haven’t worked nine-to-five in an office for two years, I’ve still waked at 4:30AM or 5AM each day and relished those early morning hours of alone time before the world comes alive.
Now, suddenly, during this first week in my new home, I’ve still wakened at the same time, but savored pulling up the covers and snoozing for another hour in that delicious mind-state of half-dream, half awake. It’s a pleasurable way ease rather than leap into each day, and I think I’ll give it a shot as a possible new habit.
Another potential new habit is developing, also without conscious effort: I’ve taken to walking in the morning or evening along the Eastern Prom at the edge of water, which is just a block and a half from my apartment. Walks for exercise, relaxation, thought or just idleness are a centuries-old, human tradition, but not mine. I walked a lot in New York City, but only with a destination and purpose. Now, something outside myself urges me toward a walk once or twice a day and I’ve found I don’t need a purpose anymore.
Sometimes, it is hard to know, when new practices and habits appear, how they came about. I could go all Freudian here about fulfilling unconscious needs and desires, but I don’t have much patience with that stuff, finding it enough to just observe and note changes.
What does interest me, however, is that so much of who we are – young and old - is defined by our daily habits and it appears, if I am an example, that a major life change (moving to another city) provokes alterations in behavior that will create new melodies and different rhythms to the pace of daily life. And, these changes come about whatever your age.