I’m just coming off of a high school reunion – the “R30”, as I called it. In the wake of the weekend, I’ve had a mixed bag of thoughts about the whole affair.
First and foremost, I’m grateful for the people that made the time and effort to participate, some traveling from far away – events were in California and folks came from Washington, Idaho, Colorado, New York, and even Mexico. Clearly the gathering mattered to many. Me included.
That said, there seems to be a variety of attitudes and perspectives around the idea of seeing people you’ve not seen for 10, 20, 30 or more years, in some cases. What will it be like? What will we talk about? What will people say? All these are common and very reasonable questions.
In my experience, borne out again this time, is that there are always early supporters, and early dismissers, at the thought of having and attending a high school reunion. Some think, “I didn’t enjoy high school, those weren’t great years for me, I’d rather not relive them (which ends up happening a bit, since those experiences all those years ago are the baseline you have with classmates). But that’s really only the beginning. The early supporters know this. They know how much more the gatherings can be.
People think back, reflecting on their own personal high school experience, the victories and the failures, all the feelings they had so long ago. This stops some people from considering reunion participation right there. Layer on busy schedules, apathy, a personal sense of not being a fan of crowds, and there’s plenty of reason folks decide to pass. Simple enough.
Not so simple for me. I was “class president”, which has me mostly feeling every 3 to 4 years like I have to try to keep the class spirit alive. But the great thing is, I don’t need much of that sense of obligation, because the magic I felt about my classmates – strangely – so many years earlier, is alive and well today. It’s alive and well in the many people that pitch in to make the events a success. I seem to experience the best of what a reunion gathering can offer, because time and again, I “feel the love.”
At the core I’m motivated by the possibilities. At its best, there are some slivers of remembrance, of what we meant to each other. If the magic’s alive and well, we remember what we can shared, where we’ve been, and leave behind any notion we need to be “keeping up with Jones”.
I contend that those connections still matter, in a new ways, as we continue life’s journey. We are all finding our way. And sharing whatever the stories are, they strengthen us.
So whether you think you’ll be one of the enthusiastic participants or a late decider, rally for the event, that’s my advice. Go to your reunion.
You never know for sure how things will go in life, or at a gathering of high school classmates. You got to show up to find out, that’s the bottom line.