May 26, 2016

When Are We No Longer Ourselves?

This post is going to be a bit more philosophical and involve quite a bit more navel-gazing than my normal posts, but please bear with me for a bit.

This week, I traveled back to Utah to see my granddaughter graduate from high school.  Years ago, both my late wife and I promised her that we'd be there to see her graduate, and while my deceased wife was understandably not able to fulfill her part of the agreement, I made sure that I was here to help celebrate this important milestone.

On an entirely different thread, I've had a plan for the past decade about how I was going to handle my eventual retirement.  I've got a decent savings goal, and when I hit that goal, I was planning on moving back to Utah, buying a new house, and spending my remaining years making small indie games.

I bring this up because, well, my visit for my granddaughter has thrown a large monkey wrench into my retirement plans.  Essentially, while I had already been questioning my plan to return to Utah because of some absolutely moronic political decisions that the state had been making over the last few years, this visit pretty much helped me decide that unless something drastic happens in my life necessitating my relocation to Utah, I would never move back.

To understand why, we need to briefly walk through two thought exercises.  You have a car that has a lot of reliability problems. You replace a part. Is it still the same car? You replace another, and another, and another.  Is it still the same car?  You replace every single part.  Is it still the same car?

Likewise, every cell in the human body is replaced every seven years (approximately).  Are you the same you that you were a minute ago?  A year ago?  Seven years ago?

I think this trip gave me my answer.  You aren't the same you.  You aren't even the same you that you were when you started reading this.  You have changed...and so have I.

What led me down this road of thought was this trip.  This was my third trip back to Utah over the last decade, but only the first one where I got to spend time exploring.  I'd never felt like I belonged in Utah, but I also had never felt as alien as I had on this trip, so I decided to try to figure it out.

Geographically, a lot has changed.  Eight of the eleven jobs that I had in Utah are no more.  Three of the houses I lived in are gone.  The restaurants that I had both of my first dates in are gone.  Jewelry stores where I bought the engagement and wedding rings are gone.  My peaceful alcove in Adams Canyon is gone.  Favorite stores, restaurants, friends, gone.  These are just surface level changes, but they add up.  Enough has changed over the last decade that while I recognize the basic contours of the state, it's no longer the same state that I left.

It's the same for me personally.  I've changed significantly since I moved to Texas to try to find my fortune.  While there are plenty of physical changes, I'm also quite a bit different mentally and emotionally.

I think the big difference is perception.  You don't notice that you are changing day to day unless something drastic changes.  The people you are with don't notice the changes either.  People you haven't seen in a bit do notice the changes, though.  It's just that the level of change from sighting to sighting has increased.

Utah has changed to the point where it feels alien to me.  The odd part is that I feel like I've changed enough since leaving that the me who was me when I lived here also feels alien to me.

At this point, I'm going to need to start from scratch on determining what to do when I retire.  I've still got time, but I like to be prepared.  After all, who knows who I will be then?

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