The more life changes, the more it stays the same. I have heard that one. The only thing constant in life is change. I have heard that one too. Both truisms are true even if they may seem to be in conflict with one another. The older I get, the more convinced I become that as life goes on changes will have to happen because of life's circumstances. We pass from one decade to the next and our bodies change, of course. The persons we were when we were in our 20s are not who we are when we are in our 60s. We look much different than we once did and we may even think a lot different than we did in the past. Life has molded us into the people we have become and often for the better.
I am much the same person I was when I was a teenager, only more handsome and less fat than in those days, thank God and proper diet and exercise (that takes care of the fat part but the handsome part is up to you....I think I do look a lot better than I did when I was in high school...egad, how weird is that?). I entered an occupation and a marriage in the same summer and at the age of 21 and now almost 40 years later I reflect upon those decades and all the changes I have seen in life, specially my life. Two children, now grown and living independently (very independently), one wife that has been the same one for almost 4 decades, two professions later....and I am mostly very happy with the way life is for me.
When we first started out in life together, my wife and I were both school teachers and lived in Humble, Texas, just north of Houston, and Humble was a small country town that Houston had not reached yet. We lived in a little one bedroom apartment and were very active in the church that was just down the street from us. We had many friends there and socialized with them often. Today, I never hear from any of those friends. We even traveled with some of them, to the Rocky Mountains on a few occasions. We caught fish together and shared mountain cabins and I thought we would be friends forever. Then we moved north, away from Houston, closer to Dallas. Those friends faded like the light at the close of day as the night sets in. I have not heard anything from any of them in at least two decades now. Life changes and so do we.
I am not the man I was when I was 21. I was not that guy when I was 41. Today, as I approach 61 (in two months) I do not resemble him physically, emotionally, spiritually, politically, or in just about any other way. I am so different now than I was when I first started out in adulthood that I most likely could not be good friends with those persons I considered to be close friends then. They and I no longer share the values that I thought we did in the early 70s. Some of them cling to the ideas they had long ago and I know I could never convince them to see the world any differently. They are who they have been for decades and I am not the same guy they knew.
I became convinced of this fact a couple years ago when I decided to attend the burial of the pastor of the church I attended when I was in college. He was a wonderful man and he and his family accepted me as part of the gang and I shared many hours with them that nurtured me and helped me through some most difficult times. I have kept in touch with his children through the years and when I heard that he had passed away and would be buried in Brenham, I decided to go to the burial. The funeral had been held in Fort Worth so this was supposed to be simply the graveside burial service. It was a very hot summer day when this was held and a tent had been erected in the cemetery. People were sweltering under the tent and there were few places to sit so I stood in the back of the crowd and sweated and wanted it to be over so I could visit with my friends from long ago. As the brother-in-law preacher began his long apocalyptic discourse filled with messages that I would preferred not to have heard, it dawned on me that I did not belong. No longer did I belong in this crowd of people shouting "Amen" as the preacher droned on. No longer did I belong with people whose world view was so different from mine. No longer did I belong with people who considered all who do not believe or practice what they teach as "sinners" because I now fit that category if they were to be totally honest. I was the black sheep who had happened in to mix with all the white sheep who inhabited the flock of the righteous and holy.
I had intended to stay around to visit and have food after the burial but something inside me told me it was time to make my exit, and I left without telling anyone that I was leaving. It was as if a panic set it that told me it was "fight or flight" time and fleeing was better than fighting in this instance. As I drove away, it was as if a curtain pulled in my mind to separate me from the past that this group represented. At one time, I had been part of their particular religious dogma. I now find it oppressive and dictatorial and could never return to it or them.
Passages....we all travel through this life and we find traveling companions along the way. Some of them we keep for life....if we are lucky. Some of them come and go as we move and travel and change. Some of them drop out of our lives for good along the way and we think about them now and then and let go of the memory because it does us little good to long for something that is no longer possible to have. We change as life does and our lives continue to be be impressed by others even as we impress them by the kinds of lives we live.