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Blake’s View: New Friends in Old Photographs

I’ve been studying Japanese since I started my degree. In the first year I took it as an optional unit, and this year I’m studying for credit. I remember last year, about February time, I was quite stressed out. Exams and essay deadlines were looming. It isn’t much different this year. There’s loads to do!

At that time, a group of Japanese students joined us in our Japanese classes for a few weeks, and some photographs were taken. I didn’t think much of it at the time. Other things were on my mind.

Twelve months later, and the Japanese have once again been and left town. I took a look at the fresh snaps taken this year, and I started to reminisce about the images from one year ago.

Looking back at myself, not only do I see a change in my clothes and haircut, but I sense an even greater change has taken place below the surface. That was Blake 20.0, and now I’m Blake 21.0. It’s a weird feeling, but it feels good that I have changed.

That past time seems cloudy, hazy – more like a dream. It makes me think about all the things that were my concerns then. Many of them are probably the same – getting assignments finished, making plans for the summer, and feeling like there isn’t enough time to relax. Even if the situations are similar, the way I react to them is undoubtedly different, because of all I’ve learned during the year.

Yet I was further surprised as I scrolled through the year-old photos. I saw the faces of people who I now meet on a regular basis – in Japanese class, and socially (such as at our recent visit to London). At the time, these people were unknown to me – just faces in the crowd, strangers. Now, I am lucky enough to call some of those people my friends. So I realise that new friends are all around us, even if we don’t know it.

It makes me think of the future. When I look at my current photographs in one year’s time, how much will I have changed again? Will I still remember who I was, how I was feeling and all my concerns about the present? What about in ten years, or in fifty years?

And what about those faces in the photographs – will they still be my friends, or will they have returned to the realm of obscurity from which they came? Time keeps moving on.

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