I hated beans most of my life. From about age 2 when I understand I was first offered beans, all the way into my very late 20s or even early 30s, I detested them with great passion. I loathed all forms of beans, from simple black beans to chili to the southern staple of black-eyed peas to the unholiest of unholies, baked beans.
Then, sometime around 2010, I switched to the Slow-Carb Diet. Conceived by Tim Ferriss, it leans heavily on beans (specifically all legumes). Determined to give the diet a full try, I dove in head-first. I bought a can of black beans and ate them.
And they were terrible. Ugh. UGH! It was everything I remembered and hated, and more! How could anyone every stomach these horrid monstrosities?!
But in that hatred, I found something curious. How could ANYONE possibly stand beans? How could they be people’s favorite food? So I turned to the wisdom of the ages and I Googled bean recipes. Lo and behold, I discovered that the problem wasn’t the beans; it was with the cook. I had no damn idea what I was doing.
Armed with some recipes, I attempted another meal with the black beans. This time, I prepared them properly (meaning, ‘at all’). And sweet Christmas, they were amazing.
They were so good, I was eager for the next meal so I could eat more. Imagine that!
Since then, I’ve learned to love black beans, garbanzo beans, and I consider chili a treat. And it was all because I had never had them prepared properly (or at least in a fashion I found I could enjoy).
But there were other instances that had less to do with taste and more with experience. Wrestling is a new love of mine. I used to never care for wrestling (classical or professional). It wouldn’t be until high school that I got into the WWE and similar groups. It had less to do with the action and the violence and the insanity that came from (what in wrestling circles is known as) the Attitude Era. It was actually the production value of the promotional packages. The WWE and WCW would do these…for lack of a better term, music videos, hyping up the next big event. I ate that stuff up. It was operatic to me. Delightful and through that I discovered a love of pro-wrestling.
Classic wrestling I always found boring and needlessly restrictive until I began training more formally in martial arts. I learned the value and benefit of sports-specific training (even for a self-protection enthusiast such as myself) and I learned the enjoyment of grappling in general. My ability to enjoy wrestling at the Olympics, the Pan-Am Games, and the like, is comparable to my ability to enjoy basketball or football.
I could go on. I could talk about how indifferent I was to most westerns until I learned about storytelling, and character dynamics (specifically the four humours from Greek plays). Now, I eat up the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly and old episodes of Rawhide. I could talk about how much I enjoy math puzzles now that I grasp higher levels of math not numerically but conceptually.
What this all boils down to is that while we are informed by our past, and it helps to create us, we needn’t be totally beholden to it. Just because you liked something as a child doesn’t mean you have to like it now. That doesn’t mean you have betrayed who you are; merely that the chrysalis of then gave birth to the you of now. Likewise, that which you didn’t care for back then, you may want to try out now. You may discover you love what you once thought was silly, you are inspired by what you once thought was vapid. Or you may confirm your dislike, but now you’ll have a better idea as to why you dislike it.
This is one reason why, when children do extreme things, they are waved off with ‘it’s just a phase’. Of course it’s just a phase. All of our lives are lived in phases. That doesn’t make it less real or important, merely it acknowledges that we move on. This is also why it troubles me when people talk about major changes in life like it’s a betrayal. “It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized I was gay”. Were you gay the whole time, or is there a chance that you were straight back then and you grew to become gay? I don’t care to get bogged down in theories of how sexuality develops in humans but I do believe that people not only can change but do change.
So go back to your basics. Go back to what you hate, and what you love. See how it stands now. Maybe you’ll find you love movie genres you never cared for. Maybe you’ll see you don’t actually like the Rolling Stones anymore. Even if you do nothing but confirm what you already knew it, it makes for a fun exercise to find the beauty in everything, that which we love and that which we hate.
Except baked beans.
Baked beans are awful. Full-stop.