One of the secrets to living a richer life comes in learning to evaluate experiences beyond a simple like or dislike – especially on first encounter. So many of the delights of living are found in acquired tastes. Returning to a challenge for new insights. The critical examination and perspective.

So it’s been with the opera, so much classical music, visual art, beer and wine, even literature I’ve come to love. To say nothing of Holy Scripture. Or the places I’ve lived. To be honest, there are often stretches in a long hike I might admit I don’t like, especially if the insects are biting and the incline’s steep, no matter how much I’m enlivened by the entire outing.

Somewhere along the line, I’ve learned to distrust what comes easily. In living with a piece of art, you may realize fatal flaws behind the initial flash, or to your continuing delight you may find the revelations expanding.

Part of the transition comes in learning to see value in ambiguity and paradox, or to find riches in the shadings of gray beyond simple black and white. It’s not an argument for self-torture or meaninglessness, but rather a willingness to suspend disbelief long enough to consider many other dimensions.

Yes, I like pizza. But, as an illustration, I never would have discovered the joys of manicotti if I’d insisted on the familiar pie that one night.

At the moment, I’m cracking open the Bartok string quartets by means of repeated listening and finding such beauty beneath their outward gruffness. Any examples you care to add the list?


  1. I felt badly about clicking “LIKE” here! LOL

    My examples: Country Music, especially Swing, Old Country and Bluegrass. I was so caught up with disliking themusic because of the Ku Klux Klannish aspects of that culture I missed the good actual music for decades. About ten years ago, a fiddler/mandolin player I became close to opened my ears to this music’s variety and great players; plus, he’s Jewish, like me, so I had to admit that not ALL players of this music had KKK roots!

    Keep letting people know about our *CHANGES* conversation between authors, also! Getting more viewers daily for your Episode 24 and all previous Episodes, each with excellent authors:

    Best to you, Jnana!


  2. A service of Evensong (according to the 1662 Book of Common Prayer). When I first tried to worship in this context, I hated it; the language was dated, the music was performance rather than participatory for the congregation, and the congregation were all but silent and passive throughout.

    Only gradually did I come to understand why this is the best-attended daily service in my city; it allows tired people at the end of the work day to sit in wonder without much being demanded of them, and to be ministered to by the gentle rhythms of what goes on “up front.”

  3. Here are a few food items I acquired a taste for after initially finding repellent: kimchi and Retsina, which is a type of Greek wine stored in pine casks. There are lots of other things, too, but since I haven’t had any coffee yet, I can’t think of any offhand–excepting beer, coffee, and cigarettes–not that I smoke them anymore. Now they’re the most revolting thing I can think of. Thank you very much for choosing to follow my blog. I’m already a follower of yours. (If we’re following each other, does that mean we’re going around in circles?)

  4. Coffee is definitely an acquired taste; Retsina as well (I used to buy it in grad school because [a] it was cheap and [b] it came in 1l v. 750ml bottles). Kimchi was something I absolutely hated the first time; years later, I had it and loved it. Seafood, generally. Yogurt. Opera. Ray Bradbury–first encountered when I was in 5th or 6th grade–so freaked me out that I avoided his work until I was in my late 20s.

    But it’s more interesting to think about *why* we like things; for Country Music, much of my dislike has to do with what I perceive to be an artificiality. I have come to enjoy a well-played pedal steel. Some things we like because they’re familiar, and some because they’re very, very unfamiliar. Give a listen to Cloud Cult’s version of “Mr. Tambourine Man,” for example.

      1. Sometimes, not always. But it’s tricky, because country shades into other genres as well. I tend to change the station whenever I hear sticky-sweet stuff in (what seems to me) an artifiically-countrified voice, so I don’t get that much exposure. But there is the joke about the standard-issue C&W song: “I was drunk/the day my ma/got out of prison/and I drove my old 4×4/with my good ol dog, Bear/down to the river/to get down on my knees/and thank the Lord.”

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