Be Ready To Change Your Mind All The Time
Fixed ideas — yeah, like they’ve been neutered.
Some people get hidebound pretty early on, and the rot sets in and never leaves. When you can’t think outside of a set of self-imposed restrictions you’ve already lost the fight.
I used to work the show circuit — craft shows, book shows, etc. I spoke to a lot of people, and sometimes they come up and they express a distaste for my own viewpoint of life and how it operates. I am always interested in finding out where they got the data about me and my beliefs from. I also want to know from whence they derive their own surety. Being prepared to listen to someone who wants to shout at you provokes some interesting responses.
Those who will listen and those who ask questions are less threatened — those who will brook no conversation and have you labelled as evil walk out of the conversation the same way they walked in. I’d much rather be able to change myself if I need to.
Does it mean I am not steadfast in my own opinion if I listen to another’s ideas? Of course not. I may be standing there with a monolithic misconception about something, and having to explain it to someone who has no love for the things I cherish may lead me down the path of better understanding my own thoughts on a subject.
Even if you end a conversation not having changed anyone’s mind about certain principles of existence, it is entirely possible that you might convince them that you are not the cartoon monster they had imagined you as beforehand.
I do not divide people into the camps of those who I agree with and those I disagree with, because that would make for a very mutable map, and one that would be no use to anyone in navigating life. I do however draw strict lines when it comes to those who are at least willing to have a conversation and listen to my side and those who won’t. Those who won’t hear a single word I have to say aren’t actually interested in talking to me, and despite what they may think, they aren’t preaching to me, because that contains within it some element of teaching. A preacher wants to reach his audience and enlighten them if possible. Quoting passages from your holy book at someone in an effort to bully them, or perhaps to silence them as they try to talk to you and explain their own reality, represents no victory for you. When you fail to listen to someone who is willing to talk to you, you have defeated yourself, and allowed ignorance a victory.
I find people have a similar attitude sometimes when it comes to listening to children — they have already decided that their is nothing to learn from these smaller beings. But children are untrammeled by the damages that have been visited on many adults (at least most of them are) and they often see things with a clarity and simplicity, that adults, through “learning” have lost the ability to do. We complicate things, and we operate off of what we know, rather than from what we see.
I always thought of myself as intelligent, and that I knew a lot of things, but I have come to see that the smartest thing about me is that I am able to change my mind.