On one of his old comedy albums, Steve Martin tells the joke, “You know what’s great about getting old? You don’t have to have an open mind about trying anything new. When one of your friends says, hey, let’s try this new thing, you can just say … NO!”
I have to agree with this partially because I like my routine. But as regular readers know, I’ve just made a big change in my life when I left my bank of 36 years and switched to a credit union. It turned out to be a fairly simple process — or as simple as a process can be when it involves money, credit cards, online banking, and remembering whom you’ve given permission to suck money of your checking account every single month.
For someone who’s middle-aged and crankily set in his ways, this was a big deal, but I adapted. I figured out where the closest ATM in my credit union’s network is, but I’m already encountering difficulties with that, because it’s next door to my favorite donut shop.
The whole experience has gotten me thinking about change. And about the gradations of change. As a fuddy-duddy Boomer, my idea of radical change is switching from cable TV to a satellite dish; switching airlines, even at the risk of giving up frequent flyer miles; or, after George W. Bush was re-elected, leaving the Republican Party out of sheer embarrassment.
In fact, though, these are not radical. They’re minor. I realize I have no interest in making real radical changes in my life. It was too hard to get where I am now.
For instance, I have no intention of changing careers (although I realize there are Boomers who either do so willingly or, in some cases, not so willingly). I’m not suffering a midlife crisis so engulfing that I want to divorce my wife and find someone younger. First of all, my wife is wonderful; second of all, I’ve found I have little in common with women who were born after JFK was assassinated.
I’m not going to suddenly sell the house and move out of state (although I do have this recurring fantasy about a lodge overlooking Puget Sound with a dock and a kayak …). I’m almost positive it’s too late to take up marathon running. And I’m certainly not going to go back to being a Republican.
But I am finding it liberating to think about smaller changes. I’m now more attuned to recognizing my rituals and thinking about whether I do them out of a conscious decision or because I’m in a rut. I intend to keep an open mind about the few remaining things I’ve never done before.
Just don’t tell Steve Martin I’m doing this.