The Ways in Which People Change (or Don’t)

I had dinner tonight with an old high school friend. It’s actually been a year since we saw each other without needing to go through Facebook or email. It’s kind of amazing how time changes people—or doesn’t change people. Of course everyone is subject to change—that’s the natural order of things. But the ways in which people change are what intrigue me the most.

As with anything, people grow apart after high school and go on to lead different paths in life. You still get together every now and again when both people are free to do so, but it’s not really the same as knowing someone. You sit and exchange life details over a beer, but then realize after that drink that you’re separated from who you used to be, both singularly and together.

Yet, every once in a while, you might find yourself lucky enough to be around someone who hasn’t changed much, and is all the better for it. Of course people grow up and become more responsible in life (hopefully), but the things that you wish would never change about someone—the things you told them never to change in their yearbook—rarely stay the same. When they do and you find that you need to try to remember why you loved someone in the first place—because those reasons are still all there—it strikes you just how fortuitous it is to be sitting across the table from that person.

A Sense of Wistfulness

With Dave Goldberg’s sad passing last night, I’ve been watching the tweets come up over Twitter as those he knew, and those he didn’t express their pain and condolences. It’s surreal that life is something fleeting, and that we go to bed (mostly) never considering the fact that the world could (and does) change drastically around us as we sleep.

It’s a nice sunny day here in Atlanta, and by all accounts was a good day when I awoke this morning. But the realization of the pain that people are in over Goldberg’s passing brings to light (for me, at least) an emotion that I try not to entertain all that often: wistfulness.

I try to keep it at bay because it feels almost like a sense of looking back; a sense of wishing that something was different in the past. Many times it’s in reference to something that was way out of my control, and thus took place as it had to. But the point remains that on days like this where the sense of change is so immediate and stark, I can’t help be entertain just a few wistful thoughts, and reflect on what they mean at their deepest cores. I imagine those closer to Dave than I was are doing and feeling similarly today. Sometimes all one can do is look to one’s support system to reassurance, and try to forge ahead, however painful it might be in the moment.

Writing Just to Write

It’s been a busy week, and some of the posts I put up over the past few days have been pretty intense. But not every day is a diehard battle, and it’s nice to have a moment to write in what feels like a respite from the storm. It makes the writing feel deeper, and not so urgent. The deadlines can get old after a while, and the “every minute counts” mentality is adrenalizing, but exhausting thereafter.

I love the energy I get from writing a piece that addresses something specific, but I love these more amorphous, ambiguous posts just as much. The specific pieces can create a “mill” feel sometimes, and in the moments when I find myself able and free to write about anything (or nothing), I feel able to recharge for the next focussed piece. It sounds perhaps more poetic, but the benefits of writing just to write greatly outweigh the drawbacks (if there are any). I’ll find more specific topics to cover over the weekend (in fact, I have a list), but for now I’m content to simply sit at my computer and see what flows onto the page.

Rediscovered Appreciations

I went to see my brother’s semester high school play tonight. The performance was a mix of musical theater numbers and spoken word pieces spanning a number of genres. With only about 12 students participating, I was impressed and intrigued by the amount of work each student had to put in to cover multiple characters.

Yet as I sat in the dark theater, what really started occurring to me between numbers from Rent and Fiddler on the Roof was just how much I knew about the musical theater pieces; and how much I didn’t know.

Though I’ve always loved creative sorts of things, I was never much one for musical theater. I never hated it—but I never loved it. I was always somewhat ambivalent, happy to enjoy the music I liked, and dismiss the parts that bored me. Tonight, however, some of those same pieces that I may have dismissed years earlier came back to me in a different light. And even ones I’d liked before—somehow I found myself rediscovering an appreciation that seems to have been dormant for some time.

I suppose that we never know what exactly we like and don’t like because those things can change so drastically and so rapidly. Appreciation for something is a process just as much as is the production of it. Sometimes—as with that production—that appreciation can take years to develop and catalyze in a way that becomes concretely apparent to us. In that time, many times we pay it no heed. But at the moment that it becomes clear in an instant, it seems to have come out of nowhere. Perhaps it’s not that it came out of nowhere, but that it took more time to realize something’s potential and worth.

Too Much of a “Personal Journal”?

As I write more and more of these posts, I’m noticing that they’re becoming more personal. Of course there are still those posts which are more hard-hitting news-wise, but still some days I find myself tackling new subject matter like philosophy, history, sociological experiences, and even writing in general. Though I might have resisted this trend in previous years and dismissed it too much as “personal journal” dynamic unfit for a public blog, it seems more appropriate now than ever.

When I zoom out and look at the big picture dynamics at play, I can begin to see trends at play I might have missed upon my previous dismissals. Things begin to play out in new contexts, and as thought processes are laid over one another, they begin to underscore details that otherwise might have gone unnoticed.

We can’t be trained to think like this initially, no matter how much we wish we could be, or how much we try. This thought process and worldview is only something that comes from the experiences that time gives to us, and our motivation to place those experiences over one another and look at the picture which they reveal when we do so. Bigger pictures appear every day, and if we have the right set of lids up to look at them, I’m beginning to understand the broader dynamics and trends which we will be able to discern.

Subjects Too Long for Blog Posts

I suppose by now it should be normal for me to understand that not every day will bring a super-intense topic to post about. It’s less about laziness or lack of subject matter, I think, than about the time it would take to address certain topics.

Legal stories which I see in the news, for example, always catch my eye. I’m quite fascinated by the practice of law and legal philosophy, by the prospect of writing blog posts about such things simply doesn’t seem practical. The very essence of law resides within the confines of deeply-researched and well-thought out arguments—clearly not fodder for shorter length blog posts.

Philosophy in general, too, is something I think about quite often, but which eludes usefulness as a blogging subject. It’s much too amorphous a concept to be siphoned down to a few short paragraphs, and thus makes little sense to try and tackle. Perhaps there is indeed a good way to conjecture upon these subjects in a cleanly digestible fashion, but up until now, I haven’t been able to identify it.