You can never meet the same person twice.

There is an old saying that I will admit it took me a while to fully appreciate.

You can’t cross the same stream twice.

Simply put, going back to a situation that you experienced in the past will not be the same as the first time.

Many people tell me that this is because the people you shared the experience with the second time around are different, or that the music is different, or that the food is different, or the work is different.

What many fail to appreciate is that the one common factor in the difference is you. You are different. Your life experience is now greater than it was the first time around. Whether deliberate, through training or studies, or through the experiential learning that life gives you, you are not the same person that you were.

As a result, your perspective on an old situation is now a new one. A company you once disliked working for may now offer new opportunities just because of your renewed perspective; I would suggest it’s often more broad a perspective than when you were younger.

I know mine is.

I look back on the person I once was and the narrow and definite views that I held with a mix of eye rolling, cringing and mirth. Yes, mirth…it’s a good word to describe the almost funny ideas I once thought defined the world around me.

I’m not the same person I once was. This means I can experience old situations as if they are new to me. In many respects they are.

Here’s the extra bit though that took me ages to come to grips with.

Other people are not the same either.

Just as I have changed considerably over the years; I hope for the better, so have all the people around me. I’m betting the people I knew at high school, or any of the universities or workplaces or clubs, or sports teams I’ve been involved with over the years have had experiences that have changed them too.

I have met many people over the years with varying levels of delight, displeasure, indifference or fun. I have memories both good and bad of people. Sometimes the same person! But that is not todays experience.

So why do we all seem to look back at our interactions with people through the lens of a time tunnel into the past? I’m no longer the awkwardly irritating young person I once was, trying to find my place in the world, so why should I expect anyone else to be?

(Yes Mike, I’m probably now more of an awkwardly irritating old person, but that’s a different problem to address!).

Whether it is a workplace you had challenges at, or a person or team you struggled with, isn’t that a yesterday issue? If we are honest with ourselves that we have moved on then each day we are faced with a new opportunity to create opportunities, build relationships, and achieve things with people we interact with. This is true, even with the people you have known for ages, or a place you have been in for years.

You can’t meet the same person twice because neither of you are the same person that you were yesterday or decades ago.

Perhaps the new person you get to meet today is worth your time and effort to get to know. Isn’t the possibility worth the chance to meet a new and possibly improved version of someone?

I think so.

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Nathan Jones