Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Phase Change

The other day I stumbled across a recent online photograph of someone that I have not seen since high school. This person was once a good friend of mine, somebody that I really cared about. When I think of her I remember a bubbly, playful, young girl. However, the person that looked back at me from my computer screen was now nearly 25 years older, approaching mid-life. I searched her face for recognition and it took me quite some time before I found the subtle signs of the girl I once knew. Of course I was not around her to notice the subtle aging and changes to her appearance that we are typically oblivious to when we interact with someone on a day-to-day basis. It can be quite shocking to see a completely different person than the one who is locked in the time capsule of your mind. It is a reminder of the relentless passage of time and the unchanging current of life.

This experience got me to thinking about phase changes in my own life. Sure there are big ones like going off to college, leaving the carefree life of a child behind. I still vividly remember the strange ache as I watched my parents drive away after dropping me off at college. In a moment, I was suddenly on my own. There was also marriage, a metamorphosis from one into two. No longer would my concerns be the only ones that mattered. In a moment, I was no longer the center of my universe. Certainly there was also the moment when I held my newborn daughter for the first time. In a moment you suddenly understand the notion of agape love and you feel a strange new sense of responsibility. I am sure with a few additional moments of thought, I could list some other major phase changes that are typical in most people's lives. However, in thinking about this post over the past several days, I recognized another, perhaps subtle, phase change that occurred in my life. In the back of my closet was a pair of sneakers that I purchased nearly 15 years ago. They are still white and pristine, like new. I used to wear sneakers every single day. For many years, I did not own any other kind of footwear. However, somewhere along the way, I made the change from wearing sneakers to wearing grown-up shoes. I am sure that initially my trusty old sneakers laid on the floor out in the open. Eventually they were moved to the corner, out of the way. Finally, they were retired to the back of the closet where they now sit, collecting dust and waiting. I think the time when I stopped wearing my sneakers marked another phase change in my life, the change once and for all from a kid to a grown-up.