A year or so ago at the gym, a fellow member was chatting me up, looking to become more familiar with my personal points of view on some of the hot button, wedge issues of the day. I steadied myself as we waded into philosophically hazardous territory. Would we remain acquaintances or would there be a basis for a close friendship? All a person can do is exercise tact when revealing his overall world view.
This fellow is a well-intentioned, likeable man who is interested in a few of the same fitness activities as I am. Of course I prefer to remain on happy terms with him. I mentioned that I’m quite interested and involved in civil and human rights issues. He asked if I considered myself to be a “social liberal”. I said that I do. He asked some other politically oriented questions. I gave politically moderate answers.
I began my own questioning with the usual ice breaker questions regarding his job and work. Then eased into the question about his overall political worldview. He answered that he held to very traditional opinions on social issues. He grinned at me and said that he proudly considers himself to be a “stick in the mud”. He steered the conversation to Major League Baseball and dropped the previous topics.
I later pondered his “stick in the mud” comment. It was the first time I’d ever heard of anybody self-identifying with such a derisive label. Most of us think of “stick in the mud” with a very negative connotation. It’s funny that from that day onward, whenever I saw the guy, I thought, “stick in the mud”. I could only grin at myself.
I suppose most of us can say we hold tightly to certain views. I think that the degree to which we do so contributes to our self definitions. We’re sometimes admonished that we are known by the company we keep. One of my first lovers was a very jealous and overly possessive partner. I found myself being interrogated about my activities away from home. At the same time, he seemed very mistrustful of letting our relationship become too emotionally deep.
I noticed that he seemed to become more and more predictable and boring. We had dinner at about the same time each night, and when we ate out, it was at the same pizzaria. Afterwards, he preferred to sit in front of the teevee until bedtime. He didn’t like to go out to a club. He had a lukewarm reaction to my surprises and small gifts. I became frustrated at the lack of spontaneity, imagination, and romance in our relationship. We found ourselves in a deep rut.
In the years since that time, I’ve wondered about people like him and whether or not I have some of those character flaws. In many ways, I was able to profit from that early experience.
I’ve noticed that several of the “stick in the mud” types neglect or even abuse the environment. There is a lack of empathy and sympathy for fellow humans along with a tendency to neglect and abuse those who are close to them. I’ve seen that there is over thriftiness with money along with the stinginess in giving affection.
As we age, we might begin to exhibit some of the traits of stick in the mud type people, so we need to be on guard. Are there some areas in life where we lack imagination? How about our level or lack of initiative or enthusiasm? Some of these attitudes creep into my life once in awhile, so I have to make a special effort to notice and keep them at bay.
After so many years in life, it’s easy to get caught up in habits and routine. A simple change in the time we do a chore, eat a meal, or entertain ourselves can keep us from getting stuck. I certainly don’t want to be known as a “stick in the mud”.
The Blue Jay of Happiness wonders why anyone would purposely choose to be stolid and unimaginative.