It seems that the latest hot topic is class reunions. Do you attend? Do you skip them? Do you even care? Many of us seem to have the attitude that since we can keep in touch with people via Facebook, Twitter, or the ever passe e-mail, why bother with a stale old tradition like a class reunion? “I know who my friends were and I really don’t care about the other people who walked across that stage with of me at graduation” seems to be the prevailing attitude. Like so many other self centered trends that are popping up – “if it isn’t about me, then why bother?”
Did you ever stop to think that it may be about more than you?
I recently attended my high school class reunion (I won’t date myself by revealing the year) but let’s just say that we are long past the stage of trying to impress and have settled into a comfortable and genuine respect for each other. I looked forward to seeing my old gang again, and share memories of the good times that we had. But I also was looking forward to seeing some of my classmates that I really didn’t know that well and didn’t really hang out with in high school, and maybe get the chance to get to know them now, as adults, and shed some of the preconceived notions that we all make about others.
I learned a lot about my classmates at my reunion:
I learned that the “quiet girl” skipped gym class everyday and still got an A in gym. She also managed to not sign up for study hall, and no one in the school office noticed that she was unaccounted for during that time every day. I guess it pays to be quiet.
I learned that the “party guy” actually developed a drinking problem, recognized that he had a problem, was able to quit drinking, get through law school, become a successful lawyer, and stay sober for all these years. Oh yeah, and he actually got a book of his poems published – who knew he could write poetry?
I learned that the “pretty girl” who got married right out of high school, ended up in divorce a few years later, and has been too embarrassed to come to any of the reunions. What a shame.
I learned that the “star athlete” is actually a really humble guy who just wants to be a good dad.
I learned of the “popular girl” who’s husband suffered through the crippling and terminal effects of Lou Gehrig’s disease. She raised three children on her own and finally started dating again. He seemed very nice.
I learned that the “skater dude” had the courage to move his family to Spain for two years because it was a great way to introduce his kids to another culture. They immersed themselves into the fabric of the community, attending the local schools, and quickly picked up the language and the customs, while growing both intellectually and spiritually.
I learned of the “brainy nerd” who became a doctor (no real surprise), and is also conducting research on a cure for cancer. Wouldn’t that be cool if he found one?
I learned that the “band/choir geek” never really lived up to his musical potential, but has recently found a new creative outlet with his writing. “Glee” was a few decades too late.
I learned of the classmate who has a soccer playing son the same age as my soccer playing son – maybe we’ll meet each other on the field at a regional soccer tournament some day.
I learned of classmates who have lost a parent like I did. And the classmate who’s father was just diagnosed with Leukemia like my dad was.
See – it’s not “all about me”.
I learned this and so much more by stepping out of my comfort zone, and showing a real interest in the lives of the classmates I may not have spent much time with in high school. They all have the same joys, sorrows, achievements, and heart aches that I do.
And I wish I had gotten the know that “quiet girl” more back in the day – she sure had a lot more great stories to tell.