I just returned from my 50th class reunion. I have had this experience before when returning from a retreat or vacation; the feeling of being lost and disoriented. I have a habit of becoming emotionally engaged in an experience and have trouble letting go of the thoughts and feelings that are swimming around in my head. I feel like I’m in a fog. So before the sweet melancholy lifts, I want to share some of my insights. Fifty years is a long time to become comfortable with being an 18-year-old. Wouldn’t it have been nice to know then, what we know now. Do I want to be 18 again? Hell no! Would it have been nice to have had more grace and wisdom then? Yes! The understanding of parity comes with age and experience.
The anxiety of having to remember names and faces is almost paralyzing. I guess that is why some people stay home. For those that overcome their apprehension, this universal activity takes place. You look at someone, look at their name tag (with their yearbook face on it), look back at their face…deep into the face, and exclaim, “Oh my gosh, it is ____________. How are you doing?!” This genuine and spontaneous reaction is almost startling! The recognition process requires such mental acrobatics you feel like you’re walking a tight rope across the high school gym in front of the whole senior class. It becomes immediately apparent that everyone is doing the exact same thing! All of the walls of insecure youth are shattered. Classmates look the same, albeit older, but at the same time they are completely different. Everyone’s eyes are full of maturity and wisdom. It is a breathtaking experience! Their faces reveal the beauty of their age and you see it in their eyes, no jealousy, comparisons or arrogance. It is more like seeing a bunch of survivors that have weathered the storm. It is shocking to think of those that did not make it this far!
I loved my class reunion. All of us are ‘just now old enough’ for the best chapters of our lives. Think of the virtues we have gained. Never look back and say this or that time was the best; the future has all the gifts and blessings. Aging is our birthright and the promise of continued personal growth is worth every wrinkle and grey hair. It takes a long time to become young and free. Who will we be at the 55th or 60th reunion? I’m not rushing it, but I am excited about the transformation that will continue!