Circles of influence

Mcnalu recently mused on the state of his eyebrows and the fact trimming may now be appropriate. My first thought was how lucky he is to have been asked. My own eyebrows are clearly enough of a mess that my barber doesn’t feel need to ask before trimming – this can be quite unnerving when I realise that his attention is mainly on the televised cycling.

As fascinating as my eyebrows are though, the part of Mcnalu’s post that really interested me was this:

Perhaps I’m having a mid-life crisis, but I prefer to think of it as an experience in mid-life neuroplasticity? I feel a stronger urge to express myself and make some impact, however small (though preferably large), on society around me. Being passive isn’t an option. I want to do something for others, and give them the chance to do better, and be better than me. Making myself heard is important now – it wasn’t before.

It’s interesting because, for me, the opposite is true. In my younger days it was hugely important to me that my voice was heard, that I was making a difference and leaving my mark. Now, not so much.

While I can still be quite idealistic at times, I should probably admit that this has been tempered over time by changing priorities. But I think the more significant factor in this is a greater acceptance of the limits of my influence.

To change the world you first need to join a movement and I’m not a joiner. I can’t bring myself to toe a party line, slogans annoy me and the tribalism upon which many movements depend tends to strike me as being both lazy and destructive. And if my need to remain intellectually honest with myself outweighs my desire to sign up to a consensus then I have to accept that any difference I can make is equally constrained.

Ultimately, the only person on who I can guarantee an effect is on myself. Hopefully, by living honestly and by making time for the people that matter most to me I can have a positive effect on the lives of those people. Realistically, after a couple of generations I will be forgotten.

And I am completely comfortable with this.