I reconnected with an ‘old’ friend recently… someone whom I had not spoken to, heard from or about for three decades. Despite my vague recollection of the details, I do remember our then ‘friendship’ being fraught with…well, of us being at each other’s throats for the last years of our primary school. Yep, you heard right, primary school or junior school to some of you. Anyway, I was happy to hear from him.
Why? The answer is twofold. First, on reflection, it’s because he is a link to a past life which I had left behind. For one, the shared experiences of being students in a school ran by an ultra conservative principal were hilarious. Second, he is a link to my past, a witness to who I was, and by correlation, how I have changed. Because there is no doubt, change I did. The years fell away as we spoke of those primary school years, those days when I felt most myself. Okay, you may at this point query whether this is the ‘good old days’ syndrome. 🙂
There I was then, a girl-person who reveled in her books, who did not apologize for her bookishness (read, nerd), who basked in the glory of her achievements without embarrassment or care, who was utterly confident in her abilities and skills, who had no doubt life was going to turn out as she decided it to be.
It is fascinating how the Universe conspires (or provides – a matter of perspective, huh?) that at a time of searching and integrating the self I was with the self I have become, this insightful friend should ‘turn up’ to remind me of the parts of me I had (conveniently?) forgotten. He is a witness who could have told me some horror stories about the ‘me’ then (I actually expected him to 🙂 ), instead, I hear stories of us which affirm my sense of being and reinforce a knowledge of intrinsic goodness which I had discounted. It highlights how people do change; yes, we accept that intellectually yet incredulously many of us expect our dear ones, on a practical or emotional level, to be
- as we had perceived or knew them to be, or
- as we had desired them to be, or
- to somehow ‘grow but not change’, to be the person we knew them to be.
To hear the stories of shared experiences with different tonality and colour also serves to show me this – while we may observe and ‘judge’ our own and others’ actions and behaviours, we never truly know the intentions, meanings or interpretations that dwell within another at the point of interaction.
Our sense of self is defined at the point of and through our contact with another. We are changed at every moment we interact with our environment be they people, systems, nature… We are many selfs and we are one. And in this space, I am changed by my interaction with him as I see my ‘self’ differently, ‘him’ differently, circumstances differently… and thus my history. A new dimension, till now unknown, opens up.
In my conversations with this astounding friend, I was reminded of our moments of congeniality, of shared interests those years ago that had escaped my mind. Suffice to say the reality of our connection is a gift for which I am grateful.
“It takes a long time to grow an old friend.”
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