Sunday, 22 December 2013

Ideas, principles and opinions

Over the years I have spouted off about many things, expressing strongly held beliefs and opinions. As time goes on, some of these come back to bite me in the arse as I discover that perhaps I was mistaken.
At one time I was completely dismissive of air conditioning in cars due to the increased fuel consumption and unnecessary complexity of an additional system in a car when you can just as easily open the window. Then I ended up buying a car with aircon, realised how nice it was to be cool without a 70mph wind blowing around my right ear and accepted that the increased aerodynamic drag caused by the open window had just as much effect on fuel consumption as the aircon compressor.
I also remember being critical of those with excessively complicated mobile phones, insisting that all I needed was a basic device that just made calls and maybe did text messaging and anything else was pointless garnish. But over the last couple of years I've become one of those sad individuals who feels nervous if my smartphone isn't within immediate reach.
I dread to think how many times such things have happened, and now I start to reflect on this matter I'm realising how easy it is to make yourself look very silly indeed.
I suppose the answer here would be to not express any strong views on matters - rather than saying "It's a load of crap and anyone who likes it must need their head testing..." it might be better to say something along the lines of "It's not really my thing right now but who knows what the future might bring...".
The problem I have is forming a loose opinion on something and allowing it to grow into a firm belief. I then feel obliged to go for the jugular of anyone who expresses a different viewpoint, which would be OK if it wasn't for the usually shaky foundations on which that belief is built.
At some point down the line it's inevitable that it will become clear that I have had an error of judgement with some things and will have to reverse my previously rock solid stance.
I seem to recall hearing or reading somewhere 'It's better to have an idea than a belief - you can change an idea', and I guess that's true although exactly how you distinguish between an idea and a belief is a bit unclear. The solution, presumably, would be to approach everything with an attitude of flexibility. Events in life can easily change your perception of matters if they put you in more direct contact with a particular situation.
We all at some time have said something like "If that happened, I'd do this", but the reality is that we don't really know for certain until we're in that situation.
We might say "If I heard a burglar in the house I'd grab the baseball bat and stove the thieving bastard's head in" but how many of us if put in that situation would find ourselves cowering behind the bedroom door wetting ourselves because we wonder how effective the baseball bat would really be against a neanderthal psychopath with a sawn-off shotgun?
Taking a step back and looking at things that I currently have strong views about such as Christmas, television etc, I wonder if I should start winding my neck in a bit, biting my tongue and just nod and smile when people talk about them.
Sitting on my arse for a month and a half so far and the prospect of probably another month or two before I can get back to work has got me so desperately bored that I've even considered buying a new aerial and a TV license again. Then I give myself good talking to and remind myself that it's all a load of bollocks anyway and after a couple of days I'd be flicking through the channels getting frustrated at the lack of anything worth watching before lobbing the remote across the room and cancelling the TV license yet again.
On the other hand it might be nice to at least watch the news, so I need to implement a bit of flexibility here and there and accept that things aren't necessarily black or white but may in fact be some shade of grey in between the two.
Christmas can definitely still bugger off though, because that's something that has proved itself to be so nice to ignore. While the rest of the country is running around like headless chickens, for us it's just another day. We know we can have a big roast dinner and watch 'Bridge on the river Kwai' any time we want without racking up huge credit card bills buying presents for people to donate to their favourite charity shop in January. In the days when Christmas happened for just one day rather than from mid-September to the end of the new year sales, and people couldn't afford to eat well or have what they wanted whenever they fancied it, then celebrating the anniversary of Mary popping her first sprog was probably a good enough reason to actually have a nice dinner and exchange a small gift.
Since those simple days where people's expectations began and ended with the hope of still having a home and a heartbeat the following day the world has gone mad, driven by greed and selfishness, where everything is a competition. Who's got the most vulgar Christmas light display? Who bought or received the most expensive gift? I have no religious beliefs myself at this point in my life (covering myself nicely there) so I see nothing to celebrate, and I can't abide rampant consumerism, so there.
When all is said and done though, I have to accept that others do choose to celebrate Christmas to some degree for whatever reason, and in the same way I expect others to accept that I don't.
And leaving Christmas aside, last night's family get-together seemed to go alright. The music selection seemed to go down OK, thankfully, and the only down side for me was not being able to drink.
Sincere thanks to my sisters for all their work in making it all happen and to dad for funding it. I just hope I get to see the set of photos of individuals posing thoughtfully with a grape.
Don't ask..........