People do grow and change. Perhaps not fundamentally. We still laugh at the same things. We still look the same. But the living of life does shape us.
I have moved around a fair bit in my adult life, so it comes as something of a surprise to me to be living essentially the same life as I was five years ago. The job is the same, the flat is the same. But I know that in some significant ways I have shifted in my being.
I have managed to let go of some old ghosts. I have much greater interior freedom. I have forged new friendships. I know that I am not quite the same person I was five years ago. I have grown and I think I am the better for it.
But it struck me this last week, that I don’t always give others the same recognition. I work in a chemistry department, and my three nearest neighbours are all women. In the last five years, one has had twins, one has been through a divorce and one has been widowed. If I am aware of how much I have changed in this time through my simple, single life; how much more so have these three women shifted in the same time?
It occurs to me that I do not afford others the same benefit I give myself. I fail to pay attention to their growth and development and far too often continue to use old presumptions in my interactions. It is neither fair nor kind.
Any direct counter measure of making the effort to actually get to know people sufficiently well to be able to recognise the change is simply not realistic. None of us have that kind of time for more than a handful of people. But perhaps all it takes is a shift in attitude – a willingness to be surprised by those whom we think we know. An openness to the possibility of seeing them in a new light.