Do you remember when high school was the epicenter of everything, and then it wasn’t?
I experienced that reminder last weekend at my 20th high school reunion. It was my first time visiting my hometown since my mother’s death almost two years ago, so I wasn’t sure how I would feel once I set foot in the area.
Two fellow passengers on my flight helped change my perspective, and, in the process, taught me a lesson I won’t soon forget.
I had the pleasure of sitting next to Chrisha and Doe, two travelers in their 60’s and 50’s, respectively. As I approached their row to take the aisle seat, they were chatting up a storm, so I naturally figured they were friends. It turns out they had only met minutes before and instantly bonded over being divorced with adult kids and a shared love for travel. After greeting them, they kindly eased me into their conversation.
“So, where are you headed?” Doe’s pleasant expression made me smile back at her.
“To Indiana for my twentieth high school reunion,” I offered. Both women offered me big smiles in return.
“I remember my twentieth,” Chrisha replied as Doe nodded. “Time flies, I tell you. I can’t believe it, but my fiftieth is coming in three years.”
Doe perked up a bit and shot a quizzical look at Chrisha. After asking a few questions about world events during her graduating year, Chrisha’s hands flew to her mouth in surprise.
“Oh, my gosh!” Her face paled a bit when she realized what she said. “My sixtieth reunion is in a few years! How in the world did I lose a decade?!”
My flight companions burst out laughing. I joined in gently, not wanting to seem like I was mocking their ages. Chrisha shook her head, marveling at her own mistake.
“It’s just crazy, you know? I do this all the time now. Even with what I just told you, Doe, about the continent hop I did? That was over ten years ago. Now, my other trip in ’02 – or was that ’92? Oh, who knows? It was so long ago–”
“Oh, everything was a long time ago,” Doe offered, nodding in agreement.
And that did it. That one statement offered in passing provided miles of clarity. Everything really was a long time ago. I didn’t need to worry about visiting my hometown again. My mother’s passing was now officially behind me, and just like all the events of my teen and college years, the sharpest emotions surrounding the memories would eventually subside.
I respect the sentiment behind it, but I don’t believe that time alone heals all wounds. Time coupled with perspective and spiritual development, however, has worked wonders. Both the reunion and revisiting my childhood home turned out to be positive experiences. All the high school drama that I remembered had whittled down to nothing. Even the most hilarious or entertaining members were like an echo in a canyon: once loud and attention-grabbing, now an afterthought.
I thought about Chrisha and Doe on the plane ride home the next day. The three of us had shared many stories on a range of topics, and a number of their life experiences were screenplay-worthy. The one thing I noticed was that no matter how painful an ordeal was, they weren’t glorifying it. They simply shared what happened, what they learned from it, and how they moved on. No tears flowed in our row that day; only laughter, wisdom and resolve abounded.
I remember how high school was, indeed, the epicenter of everything.
Now, it’s all about the future.
I hope you’re focused in that direction as well.