I’m not a big fan of David Lean’s “Doctor Zhivago”. It does contain, however, a line I love: “He approved of us, but for reasons which were subtle, like his verse.”
I don’t think one needs to be a poet, nor a Zhivago, for subtlety. Depth of knowledge, routine use, a long history, all lead to subtle reasons and preferences.
Every now and then I’m asked about my experience living in different cities. How was living in the US? Seattle vs. New York? Are Luxembourgish people rigid and cold? Did I experience cultural shock when I came back to Spain? My vague answers tend to frustrate some people. I can only offer anecdotes here and there, and I can only justify preferences with back stories. It’s funny to find people who ask big questions and expect them to be answered with a neat little sentence.
I’m coming to hate the spirit behind “hands down” and “all the way”. Luckily, I’m not at all alone in this. I catch up with old friends, and note happily that they don’t expect clean recipes from me. They, too, take me on back stories to explain their choices. I love those stories.