Time moves on. Relentlessly. Turn around. Blink. A half century goes by.
Leap years not accounted for.
When you are eighteen years old, a half century is forever. A half century before I was born was a different century altogether. A half century before that was the Civil War. It’s a long time. Yet it passes. The earth keeps going around the sun. Winter, spring, summer, fall. Fifty times.
Fifty years pass by in a blink. I know, because I just returned from my 50th high school reunion.
Danville High School class of 1967, Danville, Kentucky
It was a chance to reconnect with friends and to connect with people who had never been my friends, to talk about the many classmates who weren’t there, who couldn’t come, who wouldn’t come, who had passed on. It gave us a chance to see who we had become.
The class of '67 started high school in 1963,
excited as freshmen to finally have made it
out of junior high. Our world was rocked
that November by the assassination of
President Kennedy. His death changed me. His death changed our country and the course of the world.
Our first year out of high school, when many of us were freshmen in college, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy rocked our world again.
In the middle of the 1960’s, with all that era represented, these deaths changed the course of the world again.
Those assassinations were the bookends to my four years in high school, 1963-1967. Tucked between those events, I spent four years trying to figure out who I was.
Many of our classmates loved high school. They succeeded academically and socially, on the football field or the basketball court, as cheerleaders and student leaders. They had friends, went to dances, had dates.
Some of our classmates didn’t do so well academically or socially. They weren’t recognized by their peers and suffered the sin of omission—they didn’t make the cheerleading squad, they weren’t asked to pledge a sorority (yes, my high school had sororities), they didn’t make the jazz band, they were cut from the basketball squad, nobody talked to them, nobody asked them out on a date. You always simply hoped the good outweighed the bad.
We were immature adolescents who didn’t yet know how to be kind in the world, who didn’t know what it meant to be a human being. Let’s hope we’ve all outgrown that.
Our high school prepared us for the many different paths our lives took—education, jobs, family, the military, traveling. Many of us were able to pursue our dreams and passions, to live meaningful and fulfilling lives. One thing is certain. We all experienced great joy, the type that makes us laugh so hard that tears stream down our face. We all experienced great sorrow and tragedy, the kind that makes us cry so hard that tears stream down our face.
In the face of it all, there’s not much difference between us.
I am connected to my classmates. They are woven into the fabric of my being. We are all woven into the fabric of each other’s beings. I carry them with me and thank them for helping me on this journey called life.
We are connected to all the people we encounter in our lives. Even those we interact with for just a brief moment become important in shaping the person we become. Every person. Every day.
I’ve learned a lot of lessons about life in the past fifty years. I learned a lot at my fiftieth reunion. Here’s the condensed version, the version that appears as a message in Dove chocolate or on a yogi tea bag, maybe in a fortune cookie. Pithy but true.
Be the first to hit the dance floor.
Make more music
Be fearless. Light a fire.
All the experiences we've had in life, good and bad, shape who we are.
This too shall pass—both the good and the bad.
Maturity has a way of changing things.
Let it go—forgive.
Be kind to people, everyone you encounter.
Live your life fully awake. It passes fast and you want to be there to experience it.
Time moves on. Don’t waste it.
My thanks to everyone I’ve ever interacted with in my life. You are the reason I am who I am.