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When my set-in-the-ways get in my way

By Linda Wenger | Oct 11, 2012

After eating on Corelle dinnerware for decades and after growing tired of seeing the same old stuff on the kitchen table I decided it was time to use the dinnerware we received as wedding gifts in 1972.

Corelle was a big deal in 1972. It was made from a special glass that doesn’t break (unless you drop it on your concrete patio). It was better than eating off melamine plates, which was used by housewives who didn’t want dishes that would break.

Why should I save my good dishes for good? I may have used them once a year since receiving the 12-piece plate settings of stoneware. Back in 1972 I imagined having dinner parties. But I haven’t had dinner parties. I used to use the “good” dishes for family dinners.

That decision has worked out really well. We eat off plates that have a heft to them. As my mother said, “These are real plates.”

Slowly I’ve been seeing if my “set-in-my-ways” are restricting me in other ways. I have found a few more.

I like the feel of a fountain pen gliding over heavyweight paper. The paper has to feel smooth. When I was in junior high school, I could buy Sheaffer fountain pens for $3. Now fountain pens, good fountain pens, cost 20 times that.

It’s confession time. I own five fountain pens. I have fine-point fountain pens and one medium point. I have black, Empyeron blue and Bahama blue ink cartridges. Because the pens are expensive, I have been saving them for “good.” The biggest problem with that is I don’t know what the “good” is. I’ve kept them at home, too, because I’m saving them for good. However, I do the most writing at work.

So it suddenly dawned on me that I could break my rule and change my ways. Freedom, even in this small thing, is wonderful.

I doubt that I am the only person who limits her life this way. If I do so in the small ways, are there large ways that I’m limiting myself?

Sometimes I hunker down and try to work and live in ways that result in little or no criticism. How realistic is that?

According to American author Elbert Hubbard: “To escape criticism — do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.”

I think it’s also true that there are important lessons to learn in life that cannot be learned without criticism. It may not feel good to be criticized but I’d rather be criticized than living or working to avoid criticism. What a boring life that would be!

Avoiding criticism means that I would lose the opportunity to sharpen my mind and my wits when someone disagrees with me or thinks I’ve done something wrong. We either work it out or agree to disagree. That requires confidence and civility to live as a person whose ways rub other people the wrong way. (Is civility a lost art these days?)

I’ve decided to look for other ways I limit myself when the alternative doesn’t harm me or other people. It’s ironic that saving things for good really puts off the good into an indefinite future.

The next objects I need to dust off and use are the water goblets that were chosen to accent the stoneware. They were wedding gifts and to not use them is to deny the gifts.

What other gifts might I be denying?

I’ll keep looking for ways to change my ways.

Comments (2)
Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Oct 16, 2012 10:39

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Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Oct 12, 2012 00:40

I think that you have reached the age of wisdom.

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