March 4th, 2012
07:54 AM ET

Letters to the President #1140: 'Dusting my brain'

Reporter's Note: If I write to the president every day of his first term I will have accomplished something. Not sure what, but certainly something

Dear Mr. President,

I wrote yesterday about cleaning out our house, and jokingly made reference to cleaning out some of my old ideas at the same time. But I wasn’t really joking.

I don’t much care about this reverence that many people have for youth; this endless fawning over the idea that being in your 20’s is somehow magical. It was certainly a fun age, but I know so much more now. I have enjoyed so many more experiences. I have a deeper appreciation for people and pastimes. My skills for work and hobbies are much, much, much more refined and excellent than they were then, and my education is vastly superior.

That said, I do enjoy “thinking young” when that means being open to new ideas, and reconsidering my old tenets for living. Many people are disturbed by such self-examination; fearful, I suppose, that they will find cracks in their consciousness of the world. Not me. I figure if I have something wrong, I am better off discovering it and getting it right as soon as possible.

Plus, sometimes circumstances just change, and some idea that was in fact quite “right” thirty years ago, may not be anymore.

I’m not talking about the willy-nilly abandoning of principles. There are plenty of ideas I picked up as a child that, despite regular scrutiny, seem to remain as true today as they were when I learned them. Theft still seems wrong. Murder appears to be a bad idea. You get the picture.

But the fact remains that, just as we clean out our attics now and then, I think smart people…to remain smart…must constantly clean out their brains. Replace dying ideas, with new growing ones; push out the mental dust, and run a new broom over the floor of your thoughts.

It’s good for all of us, even Presidents. After all, the world is changing faster than ever before; while not losing track of our core beliefs, it is nonetheless wise to keep up.

Give a ring if you have a moment. I’m around.