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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

What a difference Thirty-Something Years Makes

Once upon a time I attended Chaparral High School in Las Vegas. The four years that I spent there were some of the most emotionally intense years of my life, a fact which I attribute much more to the reality that 2000 adolescents were crammed into the same space for roughly 7 to 8 hours a day (counting extra-curriculars and whatnot), than to anything peculiar to the place itself. Even "back in the day" prior to cell phones, social networking, or cyber-bullying, there was no drama like high school drama ... nothing so consuming as who had said what about whom ... and nothing quite so exhilarating as being asked to homecoming or prom ... nor so devastating as being dumped by someone you thought was your whole world.

In the years since I was in high school, I've raised my own children and taught quite a few others and I've watched as those same intensities impacted them in various ways, realizing that no amount of my telling them that the roller-coasters of emotions that they were experiencing would be but a blip on their radar screens in the future could convince them that their world wasn't ending. It was something that was so apparent for me in hind-sight, but in their adolescent minds was clearly utter and complete lunacy.

So, what brought about all of this reflection about my own high school days? In part it is due, I'm sure, to the fact that my own 30-year reunion is coming up and former classmates are busy planning, making reservations, and re-connecting. But it was mostly brought about by the fact that my first steady high school boyfriend (we dated for a little over a year) recently contacted me on Facebook. And it was neat, but not in a way I could have ever imagined when we were dating or in the year after we broke up. It was neat because I could genuinely be happy for his successes and the life that he has without having any personally vested interest in it whatsoever. There was nothing about our re-connecting that had anything of "what's in this for me?" or "how does this affect me?" in it ... I could just delight in the fact that someone who had once cared a great deal for me and for whom I still have incredibly fond feelings is doing well and seems to be happy in life.

And, as I looked at pics of his family and saw some of his "life events," it just struck me what a difference thirty-some-odd years have made in how I think not only of him, but of those four years that at the time seemed to be my entire life ... but that now seem so long ago, so far away, and in many ways were just a drop in the bucket of all that I've experienced.

It has been a great "perspective-giver" this ability to look somewhat objectively at that part of my life ... because it has helped me to remember that at any given moment, no matter how happy, sad, angry, exuberant, or whatever I am, the seeming intensity of that instant will one day be but a thread in the much larger tapestry of my whole life.

I've said it before and I'll say it again ... this getting older business is mind-boggling.