Train the old dog

The last 3 months of pandemic restrictions have caused many of us to learn new tricks. I have thought many times of the adage, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Either that is wrong, or many of us aren’t really old, or aren’t really dogs. I’ve spoken with many people, not dogs, in this time, and most of them are learning new tricks – even if grudgingly. I know I am. I know we, at Magnus, are. Out of necessity for sure, we are forced to find ways to do what we have always done. For our attorney clients, this has meant taking depositions using video conference technology. Or using that technology for court hearings or mediation. I spoke with a client today who said he’s busy – and doing these things every day; each day kind of seems the same as the next because he is not traveling, but he’s working. There are plenty of examples of people half heartedly embracing the technology and showing up in (virtual) court, partly dressed. But, nonetheless, many old folks are adapting. It is possible when it is necessary. Melissa and I have even been a bit excited to try some technologies we have never used. It is a way to stretch the brain; brain exercise is good. My recently departed friend, Dr. Fran Kinne, used to give me examples of how she kept her mind going to age 103. One of her techniques was not taking the same route when driving to routine places (not that she was still driving at 103). The idea was to force the eyes to see different things, and the mind to consider the inputs thus keeping the “juices flowing.” It is in that spirit that learning new tricks can keep humans from being “old dogs.” Embrace it!

Many people are more comfortable doing things the way they have always done them.  These types of people usually prefer routine over novelty.  For example, they order the same food every time they go to a restaurant; they return to the same place repeatedly when they go on an outing, such as to the beach, or for a boat ride, or when taking a walk; and they rent the same vacation house year after year after year.  They are comfortable with doing the same old things.  Neither David nor I are similar to these types of people.  We prefer novel experiences.  We try new foods and new restaurants; we rarely frequent the same places for recreational activities; and we rarely stay in the same hotel more than once when we are traveling for pleasure.  I’m not sure about being compared to a dog, but if I were to be compared to a dog, I would appreciate being compared to the most intelligent breed, a Poodle, who can be trained to learn many tricks over his/her life span.  Poodles truly enjoy learning new things and they are easily bored by routine.  As David mentioned, we are in the process of learning many new things.  Instead of sitting back, watching the world pass us by, we are moving forward and, in the process, we are continuing to grow and learn.  Take it from me: It is far better to be an old dog learning new tricks than an old dog who just chews a bone on the porch all day.

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