Lucia has something to say

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

“Does Age Quash Our Spirit of Adventure?”

All Things Considered did a story today that I found fascinating. Robert Sapolsky, a Stanford biologist, did a study to answer the question “Is there a certain age when the typical American passes from the novelty stage to utter predictability?” When is it that we lose our openness to new experiences? When do we move from adventure to the routine and comfortable?

His findings?

By age 35, most people don’t care about hot new musicians. Music from high school and college shapes their lifelong tastes. Between 14 and 21, they choose their music, and by 35, the door closes.

After age 39, the adventure window for new food slams shut. And if you didn’t get your tongue pierced between 16 and 23, there’s a 95% chance that you never will. Amazingly, aging bears, cats, baboons, and rats lose their sense of adventure as they age too.

The good news is that some people retain their sense of adventure. Characteristics of these people?

1. They don’t stay in the same job too long.
2. They don’t become good at it. They don’t become eminent.

There must be a balance between daring to do new things as one ages (and not getting stuck in a rut) and having familiarity and comfort.


Blogger Elliot said...

Your question reminds me of an insidious, but oddly accurate quote from Swimming With Sharks (delivered by Kevin Spacey):

"If you're not a rebel by the time you're 20, you got no heart. If you're not establishment by the time you're 30, you got no brains."

Age only makes us aware of our mortality, which can't help but make us seek comfort. For most, establishment is comfortable. Establishment only means that you find a thing to do, and do it unwaveringly. The problem is deciding what to do. For the most part, I think that most of the "adventurers" over 30 know exactly they want to do, but their actual lives run counter to it.

2:51 AM  
Blogger Lynnea said...

Gosh I hope that balance can be attained. I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up and I'm 35! Of course, I've always been a late bloomer. I'm currently in a try everything mood. (Try everything I can afford that is.) But the adventure of it makes life exciting. Still, I'd like to think I am truly good at something that I will stick with...I guess we'll see. Motherhood seems to be that thing for now.

6:21 AM  
Blogger Mona Buonanotte said...

I've been late to everything, and now, when I should be pretty stodgy (and AM, in some ways) I find myself acting like a 16-year old surfer dude. Tattoos, speech, surfing (watching it, silly, I'd break a durn hip DOING it)...perhaps it's part of some 'mid-life crisis', but I hope there's still a part of me ready for adventure. Albeit safe, job-secure adventure. HA!

10:46 AM  
Blogger Susan as Herself said...

Man, I can totally relate to this. I struggle with it almost every day. Part of me wants to run from it all, and the other part wants to lie on the couch and watch a DVD.

12:16 PM  
Blogger meno said...

I heard that story too. (I am an NPR junkie.)
Some things i'm stodgy about. There are fewer and fewer things i will go do if it involves dealing with a large crowd.
On the other hand, i got a tattoo at 44 and started a blog at 48.
And i sometimes introduce my 15 yo to new music. I liked Death Cab for Cutie first!
Trying to maintain a balance.

1:28 PM  
Blogger Lucia said...

Hot damn, girl. Am I glad to hear someone reveal their age. I just discovered new music this year...and I'm particularly fond of Mike Doughty. And, I travel, travel, travel. So, I'm actually eminent in my field (fair trade...if one more person calls me a mentor or icon, I'm gonna spit), but, I picked an adventurous field to work in where I can spend time whipping through the desert in Mali in a 4x4 (my next trip!!!).

5:51 PM  
Blogger Perplexio said...

And let me guess, the survey was conducted by 18-25 year olds. ;-)

11:24 AM  

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