Three years

Change is a constant.  For the young, without a frame of reference, change is the normal state and is readily accepted as such — whatever is new is inherently better than whatever is old — new things and new ideas, at least new to youth, are quickly adopted by the young as their reality. But after we’ve lived for a time — once we’ve established a frame of reference — we begin to see that many changes are not new things but merely old things wearing a new coat of paint — someone keeps stirring the pot, the same old potatoes come to the top and sink again. Old potatoes are always “New!” or “Improved!” according to the people who sell them, and eagerly gobbled up by the kiddies because of it.

In time, we come to realize another constant in our lives is people trying to sell us old potatoes. Discovering we’ve been duped often leaves us bitter. When we reach that point we begin to view new things — and all forms of change — with suspicion. We cleave to what we know. What was shining and new and instantly embraced in our youth becomes the good, old-fashioned stuff of middle-age. It is our security blanket, a bulletproof vest against the missiles of a changing world. It is also the seed from which grows the tree of ignorance.

The wiser course is to test new things against our store of experience, adopting what is good, discarding what is bad but always with tolerance. Some bad things will always be wildly popular among our youth simply because they lack the frame of reference defining those particular evils. Merely telling them something is bad does little good — it lumps us with the sellers of old potatoes. There are some lessons each generation must learn on their own, a Rite of Passage between childish play and adult responsibility. Each generation must eat its share of old potatoes.

— Bob Hoover, 1939 – 2010