I understand the skin cells of our bodies completely change every seven years. Life is change. We are not the same person we were at 10 years old. We change by the way we experience life. (from my friend Tom Haley’s facebook page)
Mr. Bobo was looking at another friend’s profile on facebook the other day and came across this statement: "I’m nothing like I was in high school." No further explanation was offered. Nothing like, "I was a confident star jock; now I’m a meek computer nerd." Just the simple statement claiming that the time that has past since this person’s high school days have resulted in a different person somehow.
We were recently in a town where the majority of the women are blonde (some naturally, and some more decidedly). At the beginning of a high school reunion weekend, we were told by one alum about another alum, "She hasn’t changed a bit. She was a bitch then, and she’s a bitch now." I may be paraphrasing a bit, as the speaker seemed to have been a few glasses of Chardonnay into her box of wine, and it was hard to understand her (and I was a little distracted by her new growth; she really needed to juice those roots)... As the reunion weekend went on, we had the opportunity to spend a good amount of time with the alleged bitch, who turned out not to be a bitch at all, but a beautiful and graceful woman. And by beautiful, I mean thoughtful and generous.
It’s an interesting thought. Surely we grow and evolve physically. Surely we are changed intellectually and emotionally by the people and experiences that we encounter. So it’s a valid statement. You are not the same person you were in high school. And yet you are. You are the same person. Maybe you are always who you are, and different facets of our personalities surface at different times.
On another recent occasion, Mr. Bobo was privy to a conversation where the observation was made: "People don’t change. Once a drug dealer, always a drug dealer." This opinion seems to allow no room for rehabilitation, maturation, or even education. Statistics may show that a large number of recovering addicts relapse. Studies may say that a large percentage of "rehabilitated" criminals end up back "in the system."
People change. People don’t change. Which is it?
Sometimes we think people change when they actually haven’t. We meet someone for the first time and have a certain impression of them. They are physically attractive, they seem to be pleasant, and we enjoy the time we spend with them. And then we get to know them better and begin to realize that we have less in common than we originally thought. Because we both enjoy Mexican food and margaritas, and we have mutual friends, we may erroneously assume that we both feel the same way about Lady GaGa or local politics or the state of the American education system. Neither of us has changed. We just didn’t know enough about each other to know who was beneath that pleasant getting-to-know-you exterior.
We do tend to make judgments (whether fairly or not) based on patterns of behavior. If you have delighted me on previous occasions, I will look forward to our future meetings. If you have repeatedly disappointed me, I will dread them. But sometimes we (pleasantly or not) surprise each other. People do change. And then again, they don’t.
It’s a good idea to stay alert and awake and observant. As my friend Cindi has advised all three of her children through the years, "Protect your body and protect your heart."