Sometimes it seems as if middle age is all about coping with change. There are the physical changes: fading eyesight, graying hair, spreading mid-section and facial hair where it absolutely doesn’t belong. Then there are the changes in our families: children growing up to become independent adults, aging parents (if we are lucky enough to still have them) who become increasingly dependent on us, and relatives we knew as babies having babies of their own. And finally, there are the changes in the world around us: new and confusing technologies, strange new fads in food and decorating (with all due respect to HGTV, who really needs a barn door in their house?) and global politics that are shifting so quickly we can hardly keep track of it all.
Still, I have finally realized that there really is one constant in my life, and that’s…..me. Obviously, I’m not talking about my body, as that’s much more saggy and wrinkly that it ever was, and of course I know that I have grown in maturity and knowledge as I’ve lived my life. But I do believe that, underneath it all, I am still basically the same person I have always been.
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love animals, particularly dogs and horses. One of my earliest memories is watching Westerns on our family’s old black and white television set, and how frustrated I’d get when the cowboys would get off their horses and the cameras would follow the cowboys, not the horses. Because I didn’t care about the cowboys; I wanted to watch the horses! So it’s no surprise that one of the nicest gifts I ever got in my life was my very own horse, and I still love horses, even though Prince died a long time ago. And one of the saddest times in my young life was when we had to give our family dog away because we were moving to an apartment where she wasn’t allowed. We gave her to family friends who I knew would take good care of her and let us see her often, but I still cried about it for days. And if I had to give up my dog today, I’m pretty sure I’d react the exact same way.
I loved to write stories when I was a child, so it was natural that I became an English major in college and worked hard at a free-lance writing career as an adult. My favorite color is still blue; I’m still an introvert who spends way too much time day-dreaming; and I still hate loud noises and seeing anyone’s feelings hurt, even the feelings of people I don’t particularly like. I know the reason why I can go years without seeing a close friend and yet feel instantly connected and comfortable when we do meet up again. It’s because both of us still have the same basic personality traits that first formed the friendship all those years ago.
It may sound odd, but at a time in my life when I seem to be dealing with so many changes, I take the time now and then to remind myself that essentially, I am the same person I have always been, and probably always will be. Because I think everybody needs something to stay the same.