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  • Writer's pictureD. Randall Faro

2500-Year-Old Wisdom

A recent issue of Time magazine included an article about dreams. Foundational to the piece were comments on how the brain works. Noting that the thousands of interconnections between neurons are not static, the authors use this metaphor: “Like friendships in a community . . . the connections constantly change, strengthening, weakening, and finding new partners.”

Everyone has friends who used to be a valued part of practical, everyday life, but whose status and importance changed due to a variety of circumstances. The cause might simply be physical distance, or it may be that individuals evolved away from each other philosophically, psychically, spiritually. The altered association might not at all involve negative feelings. Often it is just the curves and ups and downs of life that result in discontinuance of a heretofore sense of closeness. This does not necessarily mean that the past mutual affinity was not a good one or has no current value. It merely means that changes in relationships go along with life changes.

Examples. People who were a treasured part of my daily life in high school or college have now dropped off the radar entirely over time. I cannot even remember the names of many fellow Marines with whom I spent over a year in combat fifty years ago. After spending three post-Vietnam years in intensive theological seminary training, time and distance have precluded any contact with all but a few of my classmates.

It was Heraclitus of Ephesus (500 BCE), one of the early Pre-Socratic philosophers, who said something like the only constant in life is change. Our relationships with one another are not exempt. While not wanting to be cavalier about it, recognizing this truth can save a lot of angst over bygones. Consider chapters in a book. The page is turned to a new chapter and the novel goes on, but the foregoing chapter(s) contributed much as a part of the whole. One might return to them; one might not. But without them the story could never have been told.

Where one lives is the current chapter. Give thanks for past relationships while affirming the ones that are presently most meaningful.

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