Chameleon

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I read this week that science has discovered when a lizard re-grows a tail – having dropped the original to escape a predator – what grows back is not the same. It looks the same. But the new tail has a cartilage tube instead of vertebra and very little sensation except at the tip. A pale imitation.

This reminded me of a conversation with a good friend on Friday – who’s looking very lean. What you expect to see conditions how you view what you are seeing. I saw ‘thin’, thought ‘he’s ill’ and started worrying. But on closer inspection he is actually in tip top shape.

We had our ’25 years on’ University reunion yesterday, along with ’40 years on’, ’50 years on’ and ‘past counting’. My year all looked older. Not a lot older – you’d still recognise us on the fresher’s photo. But inescapably older.

The classes of 1972 and 1962 though were in a different league – much much older. I couldn’t help wondering how we’ll see each other when we are that group. How much will we see each other’s age, how much will we still see the people we were aged 18?

Talking to folk I’ve not seen in years, I was surprised by what they expected from me. Of course everyone remembers you as you were, not as you are. I was famously grumpy, but I’m not now. It’s funny how people couldn’t quite cope with that. They all prefer the cheerier 21st century me, but couldn’t quite believe it.

What we expect to see conditions what we do ‘see’ even when all the evidence is to the contrary. People can look the same and be very different, look different but still be the same. I can still do grumpy, but I’ve found a happy colourful chameleon has more fun than a grumpy one.

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