Showing Up to Connect

Mark had decided not to go.

He told his wife that it was too far to travel.  It had been a long time. Too long, really.  And, besides, it really wasn’t that important to him.

He told me that the next day he felt a pang of intense regret.  And then, it dawned on him that the date had not passed and that this was fixable.

So . . . he decided to go to his high school reunion.

The urge to change course came from an article he had read a few days earlier about the five most common regrets of the dying as written by a palliative nurse.

Included in the top five: people wished they had stayed in touch with friends; that they had allowed themselves to be happier; and, the most common regret of all, that they had lived a life true to themselves and not what was expected of them.

He also reminded himself to adhere to a core personal guideline:  Show Up.

He told me that in his hurried packing, he left his good clothes at home.  So, he arrived feeling underdressed and that only added to his discomfort.  At the first event for his class, he glanced around the room and thought he was in the wrong place.  Back to the information desk, he was reassured that the group in that room was his class.

Later after dinner that Friday night, one brave soul stood and shared what he remembered about school days.  Then, one by one, others took a turn to reminisce and highlight what was important to them.

Each one had a story to tell of teenage angst and awkwardness, of feeling insecure or being discouraged.

  

And, each person also completed their individual story to tell how, as their high school years unfolded, they had been challenged academically, socially and athletically; how they had matured despite themselves; and how they developed character during those years.

Mark said the focus was more on the small triumphs of adolescent persistence.  While very evident, it was left unsaid how those trials became core building blocks for facing adult life later.

Granted the positive theme was due to the attendees being self-selecting in their presence.  Mark said he came away from the reunion feeling more connected to his classmates and the school, largely because of the stories they shared.

His classmates didn’t focus on their own career advancements and the achievements of their children.  They risked vulnerability to say how they felt, what was important, and what they learned.

They may remember the basic personal facts of their peers but it is the personal stories that will have the lasting impact.

So, as he prepared to return home, Mark realized:  He came, connected and rekindled community.

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From the Water Cooler . . .

What we give energy to gets bigger. 

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