One of the questions that I’ve been asked a lot these days is how one’s perceptions change about things as one gets older. A lot of younger guys in their twenties or thirties want to get a glimpse of what lies around the corners of life that they will be approaching soon.
Obviously, this question is a broad one and can be responded to in many different ways. But I’ve been thinking a lot about it recently for some reason. My friend Winston Smith, the editor here at Return of Kings, likes to ask me questions about this sort of thing. So this one’s for you, Winston.
I think one of the best ways to answer this question is to put it this way: as you get older, you become increasingly aware that people want to impose their frames (i.e., their worldviews) on you.
Understand, as I’m sure you do, that the world of human interactions can be seen as a motley of competing frames. Every man has his own frame. Every woman has her own frame. These frames are paradigms with which we view the world. They are our mental and emotional reference points.
And we feel good when our frames are validated. We feel less good when our frames are contradicted.
So everyone seeks to fit the world into their own frame. This is to some extent normal and natural. But it can be a problem when one man’s frame imposes itself too much on another’s, and restricts the other man’s development.
Frames are constantly in collision with each other; they tussle, compete, crash up against each other, and struggle for mastery. In human affairs, it is the battle of the frames that rules the world.
All right. Well, you may ask, how can this be a problem? It is a problem when people seek to prevent you from developing, but imposing their limiting, lame worldviews on you. And you notice this more and more as you get older. People make decisions in their lives that limit themselves. And they don’t like it when they see you succeeding.
This bothers them.
Take this as an example. Suppose you are 47 years old. You are going to run into all sorts of people who are going to tell you that you should act in a certain way. Or that you should think in a certain way. Or that you should do this, that, or the other thing. They are trying to fit you into their frame. They want you to conform to their worldview of what a 47-year-old man does.
But this is the thing, see. You might not want to do this. You might, for example, be in the top 1% of men your age in terms of physical fitness, and have a girlfriend 18 years your junior. This is going to bother some people.
Getting older means you have to fight harder and harder in the battle of the frames. Getting older means that you have to assert the mastery of your own frame constantly. Why? Because people have their own limiting ideas of what you should do or not do.
You’re not supposed to do this. You’re not supposed to do that.
And this can cause you a lot of frustration. Because if you’re in shape and you’re older, you’re going to feel just as good now as you did twenty years ago. And yet you will have to suffer listening to some dork tell you that you can’t do this or can’t do that. Or you will be able to sense that people don’t approve of your doing this or doing that. People are always trying to restrict you, to rope you into their corral. And you have to fight this.
Thou shalt not abandon thy frame, under pain of death.
I talk about conflict a lot, you might have noticed. I talk about fighting a lot. Well, this is why. You need to get into the habit of it. Getting older means more combat. So get used to it.
I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drummer. I’ve never felt the need to follow the herd. But you definitely feel the herd nipping at your heels as you run the race of life. They are desperate to impose their frames on you.
Desperate, desperate, desperate!
I can feel their hot breath on my neck right now, as I type these words out.
All right. But what are some strategies that can help you maintain and fortify your own frame? I have a few ideas about this.
Take The Shot
I was watching a soccer (football) game the other day and was surprised at how many players seemed to be waiting for the perfect time to take a shot on goal.
What a mistake this is. In life, you’re never going to have a perfect alignment of cosmic factors to take the shot on goal. You aren’t going to get a hundred chances, either. You may only get one shot.
Take the shot, for Christ’s sake. Pull the trigger. Put some rounds down range, as we used to say. Fire for effect.
Taking the shot will reinforce your confidence. It will make you better. But most importantly, it will reinforce your own frame. It will help define your frame to the world. So take the shot. Always.
Get Rid Of Dunces
Of the great number of people in the world, many of them are dunces, pricks, and knob-nibblers. As you get older, you become more and more aware of this. They always have something negative to say about nearly everything. And their frames are poisonous.
Get such people out of your life. You don’t need them. All dunces do is drag you down, suck you dry, or try to force their lame frames on you.
Be Open To Other Ideas
The problem with frames can be that they ossify into rigid, inflexible dogmas. A frame should be flexible, strong, and resilient, but it should also be open to modification when necessary. No worldview can be a rigid stone tablet on which a dogma is written, and never changed.
So you should try to seek out experiences, people, ideas, book, and relationships that can add to your frame in a healthy way. Because if you isolate yourself inside the confines of your stagnant frame, you will cease to grow, learn, and develop. And this can be fatal.
These, then, are some of my ideas about what it’s like to get older. If you want to hear them.
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