This is so worthy of a blog post.
Reunions are happening, today I am going to my 25th Cambridge School of Weston high school reunion and my dad is going to his high school's 60th.
The funny thing is that I have had to talk three people off the fence to get them to this particular reunion, and because of that and my own experiences with past reunions, I have a lot to say about the significance of the showing up and being present for this experience.
In the past five years, I have been to quite a few reunions, some of which I never thought I would EVER attend. My 20th public high school reunion, I definitely needed some talking off the fence for, actually I needed to be drawn off of the bathroom floor where I was crying and feeling like I couldn't go. The same was true for my camp reunion last summer, where I hadn't seen any of these people for 27 years and in my heart I wanted to go but at the same time I wasn't sure if I could actually get myself there. In both cases, it took some serious luring.
The funny thing is that both of these particular reunions ended up being THE MOST FUN TIMES OF MY LIFE. And I promise you, I have had a very fun, adventurous and fulfilling life. I realize this is a pretty extraordinary statement to be making about reunions, but it is true. After my camp reunion, I wrote to those who were there and expressed how meaningful it was. I wrote "I now know the true meaning of the word abundance, there are more than 100 people out there who love me for exactly who I am and I love them right back". That my friends, IS true abundance.
The reunion experience gets deep into your cells, it draws you back to parts you may have left behind for better or for worse, and in this drawing back you discover all is healed of the past, and that you are valued and appreciated for who you are. If your present in is need of healing, you will get a dose of that too.
To get to a reunion, you have got to really gear yourself up for it.
I spent two and a half hours last night, until almost 3 am and another hour today, talking to my friend about this as her fear was so intense, it was as if I was talking her into jumping off the grand canyon, and yet, she loved her time at that school as much as I did.
I understand her fears, we are all afraid of not being seen as the young, independent, full of life and potential people we were back then. Our insecurities of who we are now and how our lives have turned out, on top of the social aspects of our popularity or lack thereof when we were carousing with these classmates or campers of the past, adds to the emotional mess we can get mired in.
There is also the sense that many of us may carry as women, where we are now in our mid-life years and not the same spirited and full of life girls we were in our youth. Many of us wish we could lose those extra few pounds, have the right job, career, husband, children, creative spark and fearless nature we may have had back then. I am 43 yrs, and I have been feeling lately that I have lost a certain joie de vivre, a free-spiritedness or vitality that I once possessed and am still known for from my childhood. My literature teacher at the Cambridge School always called me a Blythe Spirit, he wrote it on every report card and in my yearbook too. My fear is that maybe once these people see me, they will realize that I grew up to be a loser, the blythe spirit left behind on Georgian Road. I didn't conquer the world and I am struggling to find my way, in many ways my life is a complete mess right now, when back then I wasn't really struggling at all....I just was.
The myriad of fear based thoughts swirling through our heads that trip us up and all the excuses we have for not wanting to be seen are unique to each of us, we all have our own demons. But there are two very powerful things I have learned in my last five years of reunions. I have been to two reunions for my public high school, these are the ones I never thought I would go to, my second Cambridge School reunion is today and the one biggie, the weekend long reunion for camp which was my all time favorite last summer. The common thread? All were wickedly fun and totally worth it, even my lame 20th with only five people in attendance.
Here is the first mind-blower...almost everyone else feels like you. And the sad thing is that because so many people are stuck in their fear they choose not to come. Their excuses are varied, they are too busy or don't want to go back in time, but the truth is....that it takes you to be there, to be courageous enough to go anyhow, to just show up...because without you there is no party! And most likely people will be asking eachother if they have seen or heard from you, wishing you were there...and even more likely, in retrospect, once you hear of those who did show up, there will be a part of you who wished you had gone,,,you would have had a blast!
Everyone who shows up is essential to the experience, just as you were essential to the experience back then. For those who show up, they are often surprised at how great it is to be seen by those who knew them before....before they were married or divorced, before they turned to alcohol or drugs just to deal with the day, or lost the 20 lbs or gained the 20lbs, before they either made it big or fell from grace into a pool of self-pity or grew into their self-esteem. The people of your reunion are there to re-connect to you and themselves in every way.
If you had a sordid past in your school years and you show up, believe me you will be forgiven for all, if you had unrequited love with someone, you may find out they loved you too but didn't know how to show it, if you influenced somebody's life in a particular way by something you said or did, they have a chance to tell you how much your presence meant to them, and the stories and memories that unfold are hilarious, heart-warming and true. Any of the fears you hold will be melted away, as a new appreciation for your past is brought forth.
Those who knew you when, still know the essence of who you are to this day. You really haven't changed all that much. The heart you carried within you is still the heart you have now. Your peers take you at face value, they are happy to see you because of you! And even if you weren't friends once upon a time, you were still there as a part of the mix, a microcosm in the macrocosm, creating the memories you all have in common, this is what unifies you.
But here is the most profound part....here is where the spiritual teacher and seeker in me comes to light.
The reunion has a deeper meaning hidden within the word itself. Re-union, this is not only about your classmates, camp mates or others, this is about you!
There is a spirit of life within you that has always been there, as I mentioned earlier, the essence of you never changes. You may have changed due to your life's circumstances but the truth and beauty and innocence of who you were in your youth is still the truth and beauty and innocence of who you are now.
As we get holder and drawn into the responsibilities of adulthood, many of us lose an element of our essential nature. We have more fears, doubts, burdens and issues. We become more selfish or too self-less. We let go of our dreams and desires and make compromises with life. We are drained, tired, sick, imbalanced, mental and emotional wrecks. But, we are never truly lost, all paths lead to the same place, and being reminded of who you are in the eyes of those who knew you is sometimes the best remedy for your current circumstances. Sometimes we may find ourselves on the path most challenging en-route to our whole selves and we feel lost, completely and utterly lost, as I do now and have felt many times in my life, but the truth is you can find yourself again in an instant and choose to get back on the path that nourishes you. Deciding to be who you are is a very good first step, being seen for who you are in the eyes of someone who remembers you, is a great mirror to help you re-direct your compass.
Or maybe things are great now, and you didn't like who you were back then, and don't want to revisit it. That is okay too.
I don't want anyone to feel disheartened by this article if their high school years were their worst years and they are much better, happier, stronger and more confident now. To them I say, hooray, you have passed through some of your childhood struggles and are a successful happy adult,which is a great fete. But even if high school or camp was not your best time, you were a part of the mix, you were an essential element to the growth of all those around you. And the child you were then, was and is still precious, although those around you may not have seen it at the time. For you, showing up at your reunion is a time to be seen for who you truly are and a place where the old unsatisfactory version of yourself can be melted away for good.
Contrarily, for the others who were the stars of their past, who are not presently starring in a role they like or feel comfortable with, it is a great boost to be reminded of your true essence, your true passions, where you excelled and how you impacted the world around you by being yourself. You can take those truths of your past to remind you again of your-self, to find those strengths and passions once again and reclaim the life you deserve, your strengths, love and passion are needed in this world and can be utilized in a new way that fulfills your life. Playing small in your life is not what you are here for, you are here to be as great as your dreams can take you.
Reclaiming, reinventing, reinstating, re-establishing, regenerating, responding, reorganizing, recreating, re-calibrating, restoring, Re-Uniting.
This reunion stuff is very profound!!!!!
If you are invited to a reunion, you need to know that you belong there....there is nothing about you that doesn't belong. Even if you show up at the last minute, there will be plenty of people to welcome you, who will be so happy that you took the plunge and made the effort to arrive.
Whether you were rejected or rejoiced in the time of your youth, your presence was perfect, you are who you are because of it and you are called to step forward once again in all your magical youth and beauty that still remains within you,you show up and are reminded of who you are as you unify with the truth and essential nature of your spirit.
With love and encouragement,