Maybe it was an essay that got me to thinking about this, but I don't remember where or who wrote it. The point was that there are some things one does that expose a person to change agents, whether it's writing advice columns and realizing how much and what kind of trouble people are really struggling through, or whether it is a member of the Supreme Court that had an entirely unjustified idea of who is entitled to what. Once they are in the role, they gradually see the world quite differently.
Because my life has been marked by long periods grappling with people who have different goals and standards than mine, I think about this quite a bit. The main lesson is that judging and predicting are very iffy. Nor can one resist being changed, though trying to stay the same will change you in ways you might not like. Or maybe the hordes of people who have never been-there/done-that will not understand and not want to, either.
Slow realization that something that's not at all what you thought can become replaced in a flash by the big insight: nothing is what you thought. As a little child, I was very proper and believed that everything had its place, its function, its proper name. Two little brothers challenged that. They were not at all who I thought they were. One is dead and his picture in my head still changes and changes. I hardly know the living one. Why should I?
Teachers always say that they learn more from their students than they manage to teach them and I don't challenge that. But I'm not talking about learning stuff. I'm talking about deep realignment in one's premises about existence. Few people will see it because it moves a person to a new set of people, but old friends may be shocked and horrified. Some will try to punish, to try to whip a new identity back to being like the old one they knew and thought they controlled. A few will realize.
That original proper little girl (b. 1939) was quite aware that the world was in an agonizing and costly war. It was also obvious that girls were not like boys for some reason that could not be explained but that guided my mother's treatment of us. Bottom line? Life is hard and females must survive it while protecting the tender little males.
I was never afraid of rape. Why would anyone want to do that? But I feared pregnancy because I saw and heard what it meant: hurting, being told what you have to do, not being able to travel, never again having enough money or enough room in the house, possibly dying.
I was religious as an interesting thing to do: sit in church, provide bouquets, sing together, shake hands with people but never hug them. No one else in our extended family, extended or not, ever went to church. Because our father announced he was an atheist, which was part of his Progressive Platform, we didn't take dogma very seriously and when the boys were old enough, they didn't go to church. But we all went to Boy Scouts, including me. I took a book. But the part that Ernest Thompson Seton invented from his scraps about Indians seemed into me anyway.
When my father was home and we went to the movies together (it wasn't all hardship) we drove around Portland, sometimes at dusk. We visited the many heroic bronze statues, the ones like the ones everyone is trashing now. They were there because Portland was settled by people from Boston who loved big statues. Check out the Boston Commons.
So I was over 21, never dated anyone, been reading "Marjorie Morningstar," which is not about an Indian princess but the same fantasy in terms of theatre and I attached to a sculptor/father but we thought of it as more of a knight/squire relationship. He gave me access to a lot of scary difficult things I couldn't really do, so I felt tough and competent. Each of my brothers came to see what it was all about, ran into Bob's idea of how to treat help, and quickly left never to return. They had both been Marines.
Then, without naming it, abuse was too much. I could rationalize, I could tough it out, but depression -- I didn't know what that was either -- gripped me physically. I was definitely changed -- the elements were the same, but if I were to go on living, the priorities would have to be realigned.
As kindness, my wealthy gifted privileged friends extended hospitality. I saw that it was empty. No one wanted to talk. In plays the main characters are described as three-dimensional. The others are "flat." I was "flat." They came to see me and to them the mountains and Indians were "flat." The same thing happened with religion. Everything was two-dimensional.
Computers are two-dimensional, flat. But they have keyboards. My life is secret except on the keyboards. The past comes leaping and crawling through. It's all alive and maybe in flames but not flat. The present doesn't exist, which is why the housework and grass-cutting is so neglected. People who knew me in other incarnations, esp. as adjuncts to what they considered powerful men, are shocked that I brush them off. I'm not an adjunct to anyone now. Nor am I dependent on keyboards -- legal pads and the right kind of ball point will do very well.
It's the words, but it's not the words, its the concepts behind and under the words. They could be behind and under images or music, but I do words. Sod propriety. Sod expectations. Sod publishing. Sod control by others.
This side of me rising may be the influence of Cinematheque/Smash Street Boys and all their other names. A little Paris, a little Appalachia, and a lot of Scheherazade. For me, more of Moccasin Flats. A change of circumstances can change a person, but mostly they reveal something that was already there, just not seen.