Author Somerset Maugham said, “We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person.” One of the things that people realize as they age is that it is not possible to keep promises about never changing. Of course this is not about our love, relationship or friendship not being strong, sincere or deep enough. It is because change is something that we can’t evade regardless of all our desires and goodwill.
Putting aside all the authors and philosophers that have influenced me, one of the TV shows that really hit me was Six Feet Under. One of my favorite characters in that show, Brenda, said: “Life is not a vending machine you put in virtue and you get back happiness.” I think it helps to remember this, especially at the end of the year when self-reflection scratches our skin like a thick sweater. Maybe we worked a lot this year, dedicated our souls to our beloved, came up with great ideas, behaved well and sacrificed. If, after all this, we’re still not as happy as we’d like to be, then it means that we’re connecting happiness to the wrong things. Perhaps we’re restless inside and we’re expecting salvation from the outside. We seek solace in those who are constantly changing and battling themselves. Because when we look from the outside everything is familiar. When their reactions are against our expectations, we hurt them or ourselves.
As we leave another year behind, can we choose to believe that nobody is out to get us? Everybody is going through their own process of change, battling their own demons. If we get hurt in the process, it’s because we’re human. Pain is part of life. And no, next year won’t be any different.
But we’ll still keep loving it.
Translated by Talya Arditi