To those of you who subscribe by email and got one on Sunday about this post, I apologize. I was up early after staying up late at our 50th high school reunion. I pushed the wrong button and all of a sudden my blog was published.
Five years ago I wrote about our 45th reunion and I want to share some updated thoughts with you.
We began our 50th Glenbard East High School reunion on Friday night and ended it with a breakfast together on Sunday. Unless we schedule a 55th or 60th, I’m not sure I will ever see my lifelong friends in person again. It all makes me thankful we stay in touch on Facebook.
On Saturday morning we toured our old school. It has been meticulously maintained. The hallways look as new as they did when we were the first class to have gone all four years there.
In the halls we have sports photos for each decade, theatre photos from each decade. I missed it, but I bet there are music photos also. I also saw iPad charging stations. Our tour guide told us freshman are issued iPads.
There was a girls volleyball tournament going on in the gym and in the field house. It was neat to see the enthusiasm for the girls teams.
I loved my high school and my classmates. I started in grade school with many of them. The guys played sports together from grade school through our senior year. We were the “Rams,” and that was a great mascot.
My life was shaped by my experience in high school and what happened immediately after high school. By far the most important thing that happened to me in high school was that I gained self confidence. I needed it later.
I give credit to my teachers, coaches and classmates. The teachers and coaches encouraged us and we encouraged each other.
I played football, basketball and baseball. I experienced great successes on the field and some failures. I did well in the classroom, but did not have to work at it very hard.
In September, 1965, I left the area and after 900 miles of driving, my father dropped me off at Virginia Tech. Other than summers during college and our wedding in 1970, I really never came back.
My four years in Blacksburg shaped my life even more. Instead of being a “big time” somebody playing three sports, I was a small time “nobody” lost at sea at a big college.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I “needed” to get outside my comfort zone if I was going to doing anything meaningful in my life.
When I arrived, I didn’t know a single person. I was lonely beyond words, and I wanted to be back with my friends.
When I came home for Thanksgiving, I told my dad I was not going back. I was going to transfer to Elmhurst College, a college close by where my former high school coach had become the head coach.
My father grabbed my shirt with both his hands and lifted me off the ground and shared with me in a very personal way that I was indeed going back to Blacksburg and I had better get my act together.
Being a nobody, meant I couldn’t coast. I had to start all over again to build new relationships. I played baseball for two years and learned my sophomore year that my dreamed career as a major league baseball player was not going to happen.
That devastating news meant I had to actually do well in school if I hoped to have a meaningful career. I began to work harder and sought leadership positions. That effort prepared me for law school.
Seeing my oldest friends made me nostalgic about our life growing up together. We danced to 60s music. We hugged each other. We thought about the 60 plus classmates who had passed on, especially those who died in Vietnam. We talked about getting back together again.
My final thought about the reunion brought me back to one of my favorite Harry Chapin songs: “Circle” Here are the lyrics I love:
All my life’s a circle;
Sunrise and sundown;
Moon rolls thru the nighttime;
Till the daybreak comes around.
All my life’s a circle;
But I can’t tell you why;
Season’s spinning round again;
The years keep rollin’ by.
It seems like I’ve been here before;
I can’t remember when;
But I have this funny feeling;
That we’ll all be together again.
No straight lines make up my life;
And all my roads have bends;
There’s no clear-cut beginnings;
And so far no dead-ends.
What’s the lesson for you here? Actually, Seth Godin answered it in a blog: Winning on the uphills.
We get better on the uphills. I needed to go from a somebody in high school to a nobody in college to become a somebody in my life.
But, there’s a second point some might gloss over. To get through the uphill, you and I need the love, caring and respect we get from lifelong friends and our families.
Harry Chapin also had an answer. You see, our lives are circles with no clear-cut beginnings and so far no dead ends.
This past weekend was really great. I loved learning about my friends, their children and grandchildren. So, to all of my lifetime Glenbard East friends, I hope we have at least one more chance to quote a Beach Boys song to: “Do it Again.”