WHAT KIND OF IDEA ARE YOU? – Marilyn Armstrong

From Salmon Rushdie’s “Satanic Verses”:

I don’t fit in a category. Not me, not my ideas. The concept of “compromise” as wrong bothers me. Not because I “go with the flow.” I have no idea what “the flow” is.

I’ve never been in touch with popular thought because I don’t care what’s popular — or unpopular — or even hated. What I believe is subject to lots of varying forces. What you might call compromise, I call being in touch. I have never thought that rigidity was a positive personality trait. The world is ever-changing and those who do not change do not survive.

The world and I have undergone dramatic changes. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be? Is not life all about learning? Learning means change. If not, what’s the point? If my ideas are fixed and cannot change, they will ultimately become ridiculous. Irrelevant. Stupid. And so will I.

What might make anyone think their idea is “The Idea?” Or that it will be adopted by the “world?” What historical thing, event, process, cultural trend, would make someone expect righteousness (as they perceive it) to prevail? Throughout human history, exactly the opposite has been the invariable human experience.

When reality bites, I don’t stand around waiting for it to eat me. I think. I test my ideas to see if have legs to stand on. If not, I try to figure out what can I do to make them sturdier.

Is that a compromise? I call it intelligence at work. I know people who can not change. Refuse to change. Are stuck in a fixed belief system. Maybe their system made sense and then again, quite possibly not. Ultimately, they become relics, laughable parodies of who they were. We find them pitiable, that they can’t let the light in. They’ve locked the doors and drawn the shades of their minds.

For most of my life, I believed everything could be fixed if we kept trying. Fifty years later, the world is not only not better. It is markedly worse. My generation has grown weary. Our children are afraid of drowning as the waters rise. Their children — our grandchildren — are even more cynical.

Rigidity is the problem. It cannot save us. Nor will it lower the heat of hatred and rage threatening to engulf us. Rigidity is marching us backward in lockstep to the deepest of waters.

Categories: Ethics and Philosophy, Marilyn Armstrong, poem, Poetry

Tags: , , , , ,

13 replies

  1. Recently saw “To Kill a Mocking Bird” and I remember the wisdom of Atticus when he was talking to Scout. It was about compromise.


  2. Our ability to embrace or create change is one of the things that makes us human. The more we resist that capacity, the more we deny part of our very being.


    • I usually agree with poets, but I couldn’t get my head behind this one. Too many people think that never changing your mind means that you’re determined., Maybe there are times when that’s useful — maybe when you are doing scientific research — and even then, I’m not so sure. So many discoveries are made by accident. If a scientist’s mind is locked, there would be no antibiotics or smallpox vaccine — or x-rays. And so many people our age are just rigid about pretty much everything, It’s very alienating.

      I change my mind as often as new information tweaks whatI thought I knew. It’s one of the real joys of blogging. I’ve learned so much!


  3. I couldn’t agree more! Change is inevitable in fact change IS the only constant and if you aren’t adaptable, if your not maliable, you will end up living a tragic harsh existance. That’s my take on it for what it’s worth.


      • My kids thought I was crazy, but we never had the same meal twice. I wanted them to experience change. We did eventually, but other than finger food night (and that was sometimes jello) just for the halibut, we didn’t have the same dinner cooked the same way for years. I changed the living room around every two months or so and the kitchen every month. Surprise!!!!!!!!!! lol


        • I try to vary our meals too because, by our age, it gets pretty hard to keep from getting totally bored with dinner! I think that’s why so many older people don’t bother to eat. They can’t look at one more version of baked chicken. I think if I ever have to eat meatloaf again, I’m giving up dinner!

          Moving furniture is another issue. This house has that kind of open plan that means you can ONLY put the sofa on the one wall that doesn’t have a doorway or an arch. We’ve actually used some open areas and put furniture there. Not enough to completely block the area, but because this house is all hallways, windows, and archways. Except the kitchen. Why oh why didn’t they make the dining room and kitchen into ONE room instead of a tiny kitchen and an almost unused dining room? We always intended to take down that wall and make one big kitchen/dining room, but we never had the money. Something else always came up. Today the boiler has something wrong with it and we are waiting for the repair guy. Our boller/heating unit is 31 years old, so we are very twitchy about it. It was only 12-years-old when we bought the house … but 19 years later … well … I sure do hope the price of boilers has dropped!


          • My space is small and with the advent of Christmas we’ve moved everything to accommodate the tree which leaves little room to walk what with two computer chairs, a 10 foot desk and 2 recliners in a 14 foot by 8 foot area. Consequently, Loki doesn’t get to play as much as there’s usually someone feet in the way. Ah well it’s only a matter of a couple weeks, we can do this! I say as I pull my hair out, lol. Hope hope hope it’s an easy inexpensive fix for the boiler. Fingers and toes crossed! ok, figuratively but still, that counts, right?


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