Thursday, January 29, 2009

Physical Changes: Marcel Proust

"Time, which changes people, does not alter the image we have retained of them." ~Marcel Proust

It is funny how things pop up in suddenly in a spate of similar incidents. This week, I had several conversations about physical appearance and in the last few weeks, I have been trying to notice those kinds of changes because it seems expected of me.

1. Friend asks if she has lost enough weight for it to be noticable. (I hadn't noticed...) 
2. Friend is wearing new glasses but it takes me a week to notice them. When I do notice, I realize right away that they have been wearing them for a while.
3. Friend has lost significant amount of weight. I comment on it and they tell me a story about how their family has not mentioned their change in lifestyle and physical appearance.

My story for them is the same...I don't SEE them, I see THEM. I know it doesn't seem like it is that different when you see those words in writing...I rarely notice people's new haircuts. I notice bright clothes or new cute shoes or a change of hair color (if it is dramatic), but things like new glasses, losing/gaining a few pounds - those changes in physical appearance don't phase me. I'm not sure why...I think because my heart just sees the person. I see "Bob", not "Bob" looking great or terrible or tired or with a new piercing. It sounds stupid, I know...I usually notice all kinds of little, insignificant details and they clog up my brain, but these things don't really register for me right away.

When my friend Chris was sick (see November posts), people would say to me, "Oh, he is SO thin..." but he had always been painfully thin, so he just was Chris to me. People said he looked ill and I couldn't really see it. I guess the glass I see through for these things is a bit distorted - like my mind took a photograph of them and superimposed it on top of what they really look like. Even when Roby was sick, he just looked like my beautiful friend, Roby. All I could see was the radiance that flowed out of him for me.

One conversation made me think that I should try to be more aware, so that is where I commented on my friend's glasses and on my other friend's weight loss...I guess it feels weird to me because what I really care about is the person - are they happy? are they feeling well? do they need anything? it is good to see them... It seems weird to have to apologize for seeing the beauty that is them even when they have a crappy haircut.  I know it is important to folks to have their people recognize these changes, so I am willing to try to SEE the real image instead of the remembered one.    

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