Perhaps it is significant that, in Socratic terms, age begets enlightenment and, as we get older, we humans manage to appreciate all manner of things far more than we did in younger days. Our own experiences, and often subconscious reflexivity – the ability to learn from these experiences – provide a bedrock for us on which to construct meaningful towers of value. We develop more specific tastes and change our preferences, we attach worth to previously ignored facets and often these are long-lasting. A blatant example is a love for the garden, when, given the time, we allow ourselves to develop a relationship with things that can grow in our care. Another is taking a pride in our living space, adorning it with meaningful and attractive (often uniquely to us) accruements and decor. Both of these illustrate, for a wide variety of reasons, changes in attitude that can emerge through the maturing process, We hold onto things we like, we treasure items, we collect and we even take routes into creating things which allow us to do more of this. Embroiding, beading, painting, constructing, mending and photographing can all become means by which we continue to add to our repositories of creations meaningful to us, things in which we can take pride, for once, without being judged by anyone but ourselves.
Consequently, we tend to appreciate aesthetics more than perhaps once we did. Even the tastes of other people and times can become a fascination for us, and we develop a penchant for using our eyes in a more eclectic fashion, perusing stately homes, museums and other people’s spaces, all the time, adding to our internal library of awareness of why we develop the preferences that we do. Having said that, it is not an entirely independent choice, as we are done to, and targeted by external influences with the intent to push us in certain directions. The media, both in visual form such as television, and aural form such as radio (we cannot also discount the influences of film, music and other performance media), as well as in printed form (and this will now include world wide influences on the web), are constantly bombarding us with material which, explicitly or otherwise, influences our tastes and thinking. The seasonally changing clothes rails, the images of homes, even the return of roast dinners with a twist all are there, modifying the way we think and feel – they can also make us feel out of date, inadequate and unfulfilled. Our values, however, can often remain unchanged by this bombardment, as we can stick resolutely to our own paths, staying loyal to out tried and tested values, the things we know and trust, and this is not necessarily a bad thing. After all, it is our comfort zone, our habitat that we control and can preserve, defending our (perhaps once up to date) tastes and avoiding the resource-draining slippery slope of constantly aspiring to ‘this year’s model’.