Most people – including myself – over time develop a very clear idea of things they are interested in and things they just care less about.
Some people are into politics. Some are into art. Some are into sports or travelling. Of course you can theoretically be interested in all these things (and much more), but there is only so much free time that each of us has, so we all have to prioritize at some point.
That’s why we end up focussing on areas that we really care about and pay less attention to other areas that are not our main priority. We read only cetain books, talk only about certain topics, have only certain kinds of friends. The older people get, the more they become predictable. And the more they are predictable, the more they attract exactly what they stand for themselves.
This however limits the range of experiences that people make. It creates a microcosmos in which they are comfortable, but over time they get less and less confronted with the world outside of their own world. This kind of natural filter keeps the experiences out that wouldn’t fit into our life and the norms and values we built it around.
That is why I am always happy when someone encourages me to do something that I wouldn’t normally do otherwise. It has to be someone with different interests and hobbies (different priorities in life), so that I get exposed to a completely new microcosmos.
For me, that person is often my dad, since in many of his interests he is the exact opposite of me. I studied Business and like nonfiction books. He studied German literature and almost exclusively reads the classics. Therefore he has a lot more knowledge in that area than I do. He got his little world and I got mine, but sometimes he shares his insights with me and I always profit greatly from it!
This is exactly what happened last friday. Upon his suggestion, I went to see a play with him in the theater. I do like plays, but it is not a priority in my life. I would not myself come up with the idea to go see a play.
But we had a great time and saw a play with an incredibly skilled lead actress that managed to keep the entire audience (including me) mesmerized for 90 minutes straight, while being basically alone on stage. It was a fascinating experience and I have nothing but respect for the aura and passion with which this actress portrayed her role.
It was an experience that was completely outside of what I usually experience in my microcosmos and therefore all the more powerful.
Of course it not possible to have these kind of ‘outside the box’ experiences all the time. If we had the time to pursue those interests regularly too, they wouldn’t be outside the box anymore! But I enjoy the disruptive effect that engaging in something like this has. It helps you get a new perspective from time to time and allows you to see the microcosmos you created for yourself and live in from an outside view.