You’re going to need more than a grain of salt to season this one properly. Try a handful. Or a whole shaker-full for that matter.
Some people dream of living on a lake or ocean. I’d rather not. I enjoy the waves and water despite having failed at least 5 different sessions of swimming lessons. I’m more of a stream kind of person. I think that’s why I picked Grove City. It had a river and a clock tower. Those were my two main requirements.
So, I was watching the river the other day. I started wondering if my presence mattered at all. I could see that if I jumped into the river and started splashing around, it would change the river. Suddenly, it would become a river with a person in it. However, if I just sat there watching the currents, I could change it in a different way.
It no longer was just a river. It was a river being observed by a person. Somehow, it was changed by no merit of its own. Just by observing something, I could change how it was defined. At the time, this discovery of definition by proxy seemed very profound. I wasn’t even intoxicated with wallpaper dissolvant then.
It wasn’t until I got home that I realized maybe this idea could be applied to something other than running water. The idea that I changed based on where I was and who I was with deeply disturbed me. It made me feel false and inconsistent even though nothing (significant) changed about me. So, using my incredibly sharp powers of deduction, I scanned my circumstances to see what changed.
Turns out, almost everything. I was around different people, in a different room, a different state ( of America and of mind), a different routine, and trying to fulfill different expectations. Let’s just focus on the first one though. Just as I turned a simple river into a bubbling brook being studied by a girl sitting on its banks, the people around me define me on some level just by being there and interacting with me.
I will never simply be Chloe. Instead, I am a daughter, a student, a church member, a child of God, a granddaughter, a cousin, and a friend. Even if we are only focusing on the friend aspect of me, that looks so incredibly different for each person. Chloe as the friend of Sally might be very distinct from Chloe as the friend of Diane*. It doesn’t mean that I changed. The river never changed because I observed it. It just means that if I am defined in some way by my relationships with others, it only makes sense that this is a relative reality based on location.
This comforted me in part, but what truly helped dissolve my fear that I hadn’t a shred of consistent character was that one relationship never changed: the one with my Creator and Savior. Considering this is the only one that really matters in the long run, I could rest at ease and return to over-analayzing landscapes and scraping wallpaper.
*I don’t actually know any Diane’s or Sally’s. Except for the one from the Peanuts but that doesn’t count because she isn’t real.