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 mountainpath

Things do not change; we change.

~Henry David Thoreau

It’s strange looking back.

Tracing back the path.

Where I was 12 months ago.

Where I was 24 months ago.

Trying to chart the changes.

It’d be a complex exercise to list the changes, or to try and explain them.

You wouldn’t understand and I couldn’t do it right. I don’t want to anyway.

Instead I want to focus on one narrow aspect. The human side. The response to change.

In a year where I feel so different in my actions and in my attitude from the beginning of the year, how that change is perceived is something I’m tuning into and paying attention.

Now, many people have no reference, no template to compare against. They didn’t know me well enough last year, or know me well enough this year, or know me well enough at all,  to form an understanding.

Where it’s been interesting is with some long time friends.

Close friends.

With such different reactions.

For X, all people  are defined the moment when X first encountered them. Once those initial formative moments are gone, a person is fixed for ever. X believes that people never change. And since people never change, I can’t change because I’m a person.

Simple inductive logic.

For me, this point of view meant that our friendship deteriorated fast over the last few months. When people change because they want to, failing to notice that change is fatal. Pretending nothing change makes you irritating.

For Y people change, but Y’d prefer it if I didn’t. Most of the time Y doesn’t notice. When he does notice, Y acknowledges the changes, but the unhappiness is manifest.

Things are business as usual for Y. Y notices the big changes, the ones that are visible and different.

Inside Y hopes the revolution will end soon. That things will stabilise. That things will normalise. And maybe Y is right. Y has a gift for reading people.

And finally Z. Z knows me well but I see Z rarely. This gives Z a natural advantage. She sees snapshots of character, where the others see a movie.

Z was direct about it. You’ve changed. This, this, this, this, that. All different. I liked all of them but that. That is a negative change.

That was refreshing. It felt like someone was paying attention. That it was being noticed. And it made a difference, because it had observable effects.

This reaction is important. It’s the reaction of someone who’s okay with change, and the friendship with Z feels more alive and strong as a result.

We’re friends now as who we are now. When that changes, we’ll be friends as who we are then. No questions of regressing into the past. No questions of filtering part of us to not rock the boat too much. Just  things as they truly are.

When people accept change, that becomes a basis for moving on to better and stronger. Fighting change causes friction. Ignoring it, a sense of being stuck in the past.

Alongside this is the realisation that I don’t expect people to notice change. People are busy, and things like this are hard to spot. The changes are often too subtle or are in areas of my personality that doesn’t effect them.

But when they’re aware of it, the reactions have been very interesting to watch.

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