Attending the state fair today reminded me that some things are timeless while others are in an almost constant state of flux. For us who embrace technology as a way of life, this flux has become commonplace. We’d be perplexed if technology didn’t change over time. In other areas of our life, consistency is something we treasure. I like knowing that the car keys are where I last laid them to rest. I take comfort from knowing that my basic route to the grocery store doesn’t change on a daily basis. This takes me back to the state fair where change and consistency hit head on today.
I haven’t been to this particular fair in 11 years, but walking through the gates this morning I was struck by how much everything appeared the same. The same booths, the same smells, the same variety of people. I went to eat the food and wander the exhibition halls, again, the same as 11 years ago, until I came to this one booth that reminded me I’m very much at the mercy of change.
It was a Mary Kay booth of all places and the random call of a staffer to enter a drawing that caught, and then held, my attention. I knew the face, but I couldn’t give it a name. Our faces probably mirrored each other as we tried to place the other. For some reason, looking at one of my companions helped her make the connection. I was still grasping as she chatted with my friend, and I had to glance down at a business card before it made sense. Low and behold, here was the wife of an old friend who didn’t stay a friend after the marriage.
The situation became somewhat humorous when she mistook me for a younger sibling instead of myself. After exchanging random nonsense, we moved on, and I was surprised at how swiftly my thoughts turned to that change in my life, when my friend was no longer my friend. It was a perfect example of how rarely we have any control over the changes that happen in our lives, and why, perhaps, we cling that much harder to the things that change less often.
I’m a creature of habit in some ways, but not averse to change as a general rule. I, however, like my change to come with an explanation. Change rarely complies with my wishes, leaving me to wonder why things happen the way they do.
Today was a reminder that I’m not the same person I was 11 years ago. And while I’m grateful and happy to be who I am today, parts of me still feel some regret for certain changes that have flowed through my life during those years. I think when we ignore this regret we cheat ourselves out of opportunities to learn more about who we are really meant to be.
Our current society and culture embraces change as a sign of sophistication, even wisdom to some. I can only hope that as we pursue the latest iPhone and tweet our newest friend that we don’t allow change to change our inner selves to the point that we’re no longer recognizable.