In the last six months, we saw some people we hadn’t seen for several years, some even for more than 10 years (or in Jim’s case, even more than 30 years). People we know from living abroad, or we know from work, the time we studied (or the time we were at primary school). Friends, even though we would not always necessarily hang out a lot.
Every time it amazes me how easily the contact is renewed. We pick up our conversation as if no time has passed, we recognize their laughter and jokes, often their clothing styles and their mannerisms. We know the subjects to talk about, understand their perspective and respect their opinion. We feel comfortable in each other’s presence, and enjoy seeing each other again.
So what does this tell us about our personal development? Do we change? Or do we only gain more knowledge and learn new skills? Or do we all change in more or less in a similar way, at a similar pace, so that we don’t notice our own and others’ changes? Or do we, unconsciously, reproduce the dynamics we were in before, and forget to notice, in the short time we meet again, how each of us have changed?
Of course, our situations have changed. And a lot of life events have taken place. Some got married, got kids, others have their PhDs, changed careers or lost their job, and some are single again. And we all got a little older, maybe a bit heavier, and start having (or have more) grey hair.
Surely, we have all learned new things, all a bit wiser, some disillusioned, others realistic, while others hold on to the same ideals. And those who knew how to enjoy life, still do. And those who struggled with life, still seem to struggle. But rarely, these changes seem to affect how we interact.
And even though it puzzles and possibly even somehow worries me, especially as professional focusing on personal and social change, I cannot deny that it is also nice, to be able to reconnect so easily with old friends. Even if it does not necessarily lead to intense renewed contact, it’s nice to know how they are doing, and to know that the mutual sense of confidence and friendship still exists.
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