Thursday, September 16, 2010

The reunion.

Last weekend I went to a fiftieth high school reunion, reluctantly. That was such a long way back and really I was a nonentity in the high school scene. Now I am in a crowd of sixty-eight year olds, the vast majority of whom I do not know, now or in the past. As I cruise, peering at name tags for familiar names and faces, I stop and hold short conversations with anyone who is sitting alone. The standard conversation with the males involves a short statement of their lives, -their work lives -, and then a polite pause for my own recitation. This is so deadly, a person`s life stripped down to work, -no families or adventures -, just ‘I was a lawyer, construction worker, teacher’ and presumably, ‘Now I`m retired and not even that anymore’.

I have earlier checked out the 1960 yearbook and found what I had written then as my life goals - anthropology, artist, world traveler. It would seem that as I drifted through life I was actually right on track after all. I mention this to the people I speak with and they shake their heads, their lives were nothing like they had predicted, perhaps because not everyone can be movie stars and a millionaire by age thirty! Then, I had simply projected my present interests out into the future and followed the moon track on the water.

A fellow art student asks if I knew that Carolyn Wild had died of cancer last year and I remember the vital and artistic girl that I had known through junior high, high school and university. Dead? And I never said goodbye? There was time on my drive to my daughter`s house later that night to think about my reaction. Never lovers, too much like childhood friends, I had left her one evening in bitterness after she had chosen to jump dates and drive off with someone else. Impolite, but very much in sync with her age, and, in my own youthfulness, I had drawn a line which she would never cross again. That I had then what age and understanding has brought to me now and that I could have picked up that friendship, more cautiously perhaps, and carried it on into the future where it could have continued to enrich both of our lives.

By the end of that evening I had come full circle, these people were not so foreign after all, older and wiser, they were just my fellow companions along the road.


Ernst Göran Westlund said...

Most people seem to enjoy reunions with people from their schools or university.

I never did. The last time I was invited (many years ago) I sat down and thought: "Do we really have anything to say to each other? Or is it simply a way to cling to the past?" I have no answer, because I declined the invitation. But I followed the advice of Don Juan, the teacher of Carlos Castaneda: "Free yourself of your personal history".

Bill said...

The N>W> Coast Indians, when crossing a strait in foggy weather used to trail a long line behind them. By looking over their shoulders they could line up their canoe and maintain a more or less direct course and keep from going in circles. So I think that the same applies to our lives. Castaneda may be talking about transcending the self but ones life history provides the material with which to achieve this. Gold.

Ernst Göran Westlund said...

Interesting navigation implement :-) Sure enough, a personal diary, or a collection of photographs documenting the path of you life, can be compared to the trailing line. And sure enough, your days of life kind of disappear gradually into the mist of bygone time.

However, it is always a risk with stretching an analogy to much.

I think it is about attachment. Nothing wrong with memories. They may help me understand who I am. If I'm attached to them, then they may prevent me from living in the Now. Hate and resentment are examples of attachment. And nostalgia, and longing for what is no more.

If the line behind the canoe is attached to the shore, then the strait will never be crossed.

Bill said...

Ernst. Yip, yip, I agree with you. My only point would be that cutting oneself off from ones past ( perhaps as you left Sweden) carries its own built in problems if there is no longer access to the deeper parts of ones life ( thinking Jung-ly).
As someone who has cast off from shore to sail the big ocean I can feel the need for casting off attachment, but I also know that it all waits for you to work through when you come back. The journey simply gives you new tools and perspective to build anew out of the old.