Friday, July 28, 2006

They Paved Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot

I sometimes like to take walks at night during the summer. One reason for this is because it's cooler, although I still have to deal with the typically oppressive humidity of Pennsylvania's summers. The other reason for this is because I am more by nature a night owl than a person who will willingly wake up in the morning to the sound of an alarm clock.

Still, the walks through my hometown let me see what has changed over the years and it is not always for the better in my opinion, although changes themselves are inevitable. Probably one of the changes I like the least happened a long time ago.
When I was younger, I used to play in a playground that belonged to what used to be the town's High School. The High School had long since moved and the building was closed, but the borough then maintained it. The road on a hill leading down to it was too difficult to plough, so it was closed off during the winter and I used to go sledding down that particular hill.

Someone bought it when I was in High School and the place is now a retirement center. Now, instead of the playground behind the school, there's a parking lot.

Towards the other end of the town, there used to be a shoe factory. As a result, most of the streets going down that particular hill are one way to discourage people from using them. The shoe factory has long since closed and new businesses have occupied the building, yet the legacy of the confusing one way streets remains even though most people will no longer remember why all those streets are one way downhill to begin with.

The Junior High I went to is now a Middle School which my nephew will be attending this fall, and the physical therapy center on the corner of the block where I live used to be a drug store.

Changes in life are inevitable. I myself am not immune although most of the changes I've made in my life have been for the better, or at least I hope that that is the case. I'm certainly not the same person I was 10 years ago, but then ten years ago I was in denial about so many things it wasn't even funny. I have since faced some of my psychological problems and have become more stable as a result. (Although at times I wonder exactly how stable this is.)

But if I hadn't changed, I would be rather miserable and angry instead of the calmer and somewhat easy-going person I am now. It's not that I don't get angry or passionate about things, it's just that I get angry about much less now and there tends to be a far more valid reason for it, rather than just snapping out because years of mistreatment had left me bitter. It is for this reason when I cross someone who seems to have a lousy temper, I often wonder what in the past had happened to them. True, some people just have horrible tempers to begin with, but there's often something else going on. In my case the anger was a mask for my anxiety. It was much better to appear courageous and upset than afraid.

I have touched many times on the value of introspection, and because of introspection I can sometimes recognize flaws in myself that need to be changed. Unfortunately, I do not perceive myself through unbiased filters, so I recognize its limits as well and do not automatically discount someone who tells me something about myself I disapprove of. Instead, I try to remember if others have said something similar. If so, the person may have a point, if not, they're probably just saying it to be mean.


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