Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Good or bad, the list of people in your life constantly changes

A couple of weeks ago I dropped off my son Jack for the first summer practice of the upcoming high school cross country season.

As I looked around at the assembled team members, the first thing I noticed wasn't so much who was there, but who wasn't there.

Last year's seniors were, of course, conspicuously absent. These kids whose names and faces I had come to see as inextricably linked to the program had moved on, as they prepare to go to college or whatever it is that post-high school life holds for them.

That is the nature of scholastic sports. It is a constantly changing cast of characters. At most, a kid is going to be a member of a particular team for four quick years.

The same is true of work life. If you've been at your job for any length of time, you've seen various people come and go. There are veterans who have been with the organization longer than you and newbies who consider you to be one of the vets.

Thankfully, we all have people who are enduring parts of our circle. These can be relatives, friends, longtime co-workers, teammates, etc. Whoever they are, they represent some semblance of permanence in what is otherwise a chaotically shifting landscape of personalities.

I used to be sad when, for example, I left a job and lost touch with the people I had gotten to know well. But now I'm inclined to see change more as an opportunity than a sad reality. New people = new connections = new ideas and perspectives = new growth for each of us.

Jack is going into his junior year of high school. I've always thought of him as one of the younglings of the cross country team, because he was. But now he is an upperclassman, and there are incoming freshman who will get to know him, like him, and maybe even look up to him.

And in two years, those ninth-graders will show up for a summer practice and Jack won't be there. And the constancy of change will begin to dawn on them.

May they (and we) always make the best of it.

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