Realities of Reuniting
It's summertime. Chances are, you'll have an opportunity to reunite.
Maybe you are a member of one of those families that has elevated reuniting to a major semi-annual event complete with huge group photos of everyone in matching t-shirts.
Or maybe, like me, you'll be celebrating a graduation milestone with a school or college reunion.
My 30th high school reunion is next weekend. I have been asked to speak at the banquet. I assume this is because I am a speaker by trade and my past appearance in my hometown as speaker at the 2009 Commencement proved that I can keep it short. That's what most people value most in s speaker. And chances are, no one who heard me two years ago remembers a thing I said. (Maybe I should just reuse that material!) That's the first reality...even when we want to, we really don't remember much of what we think we will.
My memories of high school are as fuzzy as the photo at the left. I think I remember some things clearly, but maybe that's just because I have a photo of them or the memory is part of a story that has been told and retold--who knows with what degree of accuracy.
I know the people who asked me to speak are hoping I'll be funny. The problem is, I'm not a funny person. I have a certain degree of wit, but it is purely situational. I could relate stories of my age in a funny manner...the fact that I am seriously taking Ginkgo Biloba in the hopes that I will remember why I walked into the garage. But that story's been told before...I think.
And I can't tell jokes to save my soul. I have one good one, and it's not appropriate.
So, I'm left with the Sharing Some Thoughts option. And, I guess that's what I do. I share thoughts. Some insightful people even pay me for my thoughts. But another reality is that 80 percent of the audience will be thinking about something else while I'm speaking. Or they'll be updating their facebook status, texting or tweeting. So I may be way over thinking this.
But here's what I do think...
- What we remember is seldom a fact. Your brother probably wasn't as mean to you as you think--or the meanness wasn't constant as you think it was. Nobody in high school intentionally excluded you. Chances are, no one thought of you at all. That's the sad reality of adolescence. At that age, we think the whole world is watching us and forming opinions about us when, in fact, our peers are far too consumed with their own fledgling identities to give us a second thought.
I heard this about memories, and I have it written down...so I can remember it.
"It is not so important that a memory is factual, but that the feelings that generated the memory existed. And feelings are not facts, but they are true nonetheless."
So when you're attempted to correct another person's recollection, ask yourself if it's really necessary, and are you correcting a fact, or trying to change a feeling?
- Let each other be someone new. Seriously, I am not the person I was in 1981. Are you? Oh wait, a bunch of you were elementary school students. Whatever.
Let each day with those around you be new. Even with the people you think you know. Learn something new about them. If you approach every interaction trapped in your preconceptions; or if you listen to every exchange with a "geez, here he goes again...he hasn't changed a bit" mindset, you block the new good things a relationship might offer.
- If you think "those days" were the best times. You're wrong. If you think they were the worst times. You're wrong. They just were. And I hope you live your life knowing that the best is always ahead of you.
I don't know. This all sounds a little preachy doesn't it? Does anyone have any good jokes?