I made a mistake and it was eating me up. It sat with me in the pit on my stomach, churning, heavy, gnawing. I moved on, continued with the day, but at the end of the day, it rebounded, like a flashback or unwanted deja vu. The feeling was still there. I didn’t know what to do with it, I struggled to even name it. What had gone wrong?

On my run this morning, as I talked to myself through whatever was on my mind, I finally worked it out. I recognized it — this is a mistake I’ve made many times before. I assumed that something that was real to me was the same for someone else. Because I started from the place of my experience without understanding the other person first, we never aligned. What I had assumed to be something we had in common wasn’t true, in fact, I now see that it doesn’t exist at all. It did exist once, in the past, but it was only in confronting another’s point of view head-on that the context came into sharp relief. The past is not the present. Instructive, insightful, or irrelevant? Things have changed.

What was eating me up wasn’t the change, but the fact that I hadn’t recognized it. I was still on the train two stops past my destination. Time to let the past go, step outside of my experiences, and practice viewing the problem through someone else’s point of view.

Writer, researcher, observer