Wednesday, October 14, 2009

AFTER

“Oh what a night it was…
The reunion was a success. What that means is, there were many good people who came from near and far, and there were fond memories, as well as the authentic sharing of our “current” selves… At this point, the self-conscious school days are long gone. How lucky we were to be a part of a group of people living rich lives, vast experiences. Many reignited old friendships, and many more created new bonds.

In the words of Simon and Garfunkel,

Time it was and what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence, a time of confidences.
Long ago it must be, I have a photograph.
Preserve your memories; they’re all that’s left you.

It was especially nice to see the teachers from our high school days!
I feel a tremendous gratitude for the "wonder years" I experienced at Radnor Junior High and Radnor High. Today I leave you with an excerpt from a poem I wrote in 1977:

Not to be forgotten
    Pleasures from the treasure chest.
A taste of yesterday
   Blended with the flavor of today.
Shuffling time,

   A favorite game of mine.

Friday, October 9, 2009

BEFORE

It is one day before my 40th high school reunion… did I say 40th? Ooo…..
It has been a week of looking in the mirror and seeing things differently. Noticing (even though I’ve been looking in mirrors every day for 40 years) that I didn’t have this chin in 1969. And the weight issue, well it’s a touchy one, even for blogs. I just hope no one drops their jaw and says, who did you say you were? There are other things to think about, like what should I wear? How do you prepare to spend an evening with people you knew from the ages of five to eighteen, when you’re all in your 6th decade now?

I’ve been coloring my hair for years, but if it was less than perfect it never bothered me before. Yet at a time like this, you only get one shot. You may not ever see these folks again! Do you want them to picture a spot of gray smack in the middle of the forehead every time they think of you from here on in?

This is getting annoying. Why go to a 40th reunion anyway? I  ask myself. Won’t it be fun? I reply, to reconnect with some people you knew before the world shifted on its axis? Before so many realities changed, and the real world came crashing in on you without a hint of warning? 

I’ve also spent some time this week looking through the old yearbook, and I see so many names and faces that I don’t remember. The question pops up in my mind, just how conscious was I in high school?  Who are these people? Flipping the pages, running through names. Hmm. I think I remember her. She’s on the list and she’ll be there. Was I nice to her? I can only hope…

Maybe it would be better to just not go, rather than ruin my chances to live on in someone’s memory as a thin, sprightly young girl. Wait –there’s my censor.  Haven’t you lived a life worth standing by, worth sharing… so many ups and downs, so many lessons, some disappointments and a million blessings along the way….After all, the wisdom I’ve gained didn’t always come easy, and I if I know anything, I know that a lifetime of experiences is a treasure worth more than everything else.

“Maybe you’ll fall in love,” says a well-intentioned, long distance friend. Well, I can’t afford to miss this if “maybe I’ll fall in love.” But I’m uncertain, I mean, what does romantic love at 58 look like? Because the only image I conjure up is that of two people who have been together for a very long time. Who know each other’s history. Now if it isn’t that, then what? A different kind of love? A “spiritual partnership?” I like the sound of those words, but this is oh so confusing….

I’ll go to my reunion. I’ll connect with some people, and we’ll share our paths and maybe, some lighthearted moments too. Perhaps a new friendship will come out of it, and maybe I’ll fall in love.

Ah, my mind wanders, what color lipstick should I wear? I mean, after all, I may not see many of these people again, and this could be my last impression...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bringing Heaven to Earth.

My brother Bill doesn’t look like the philosophical type, in fact he probably looks like the aged 60s hippie that he is. But my eyes have always seen him as the wise grandfather, sitting with his pipe in the seat of honor in a tipi, the sage who speaks of important matters but does not give a lot of time to trivia.

I visited his home in February not long before he was scheduled to have triple bypass surgery. It was a scary thought. We lost my father at age 50. Heart problems are prevalent in my family. Bill was soon turning 60. He also had smoked a good part of his life, and had concerns with emphysema. The visit was warm and wonderful, but it had a very “real time” feel to it. Who knew what would happen in the weeks to come?

So we were discussing the political climate, the response around the world, and the potential for positive change. Soon our talk transitioned from political to philosophical. “I believe we don’t understand our most important purpose,” I said. “I believe people are here to support each other. We are meant to be there for each other.”

“Um hmm,” he replies from somewhere deep inside. “I think our job here is to learn how to bring heaven to Earth.”

I smiled in acknowledgment. “Nice way of putting it.”

So, we’re eating dinner and discussing everything from kids to jobs, and I asked Bill if he had ever heard of Christian, the Lion. He had not.

Christian was a cub when two young men in England adopted him back in the 1970s. Recently the story has resurfaced, now with a youtube video that has touched millions of people all over the world. What happened (the short version) is this: After a number of months in their flat over a store, the men realized that the most loving thing they could do for this lion whom they had grown to love, and who loved them back, would be to find an area in Africa where it could go and “learn” to be a lion again, to live a free life. They did not want to have to put Christian in a zoo! To make a very beautiful and long story very short (see the documentary or read the book for more information), they did what it took to get Christian to a refuge in Kenya, under the care of George Adamson (known for saving Elsa in Born Free). In the current two-minute video, we see the young men visiting Kenya one year after they had left Christian there, with doubts as to whether he would even remember them. I was telling Bill about watching them in the video calling "Christian" and looking around this vast desert, when suddenly a lion appears on a ridge, sees them, and what begins as a careful walk turns into a run as Christian realizes who they are. With Whitney Houston in the background singing “And I will always love you,” Christian flies into the arms of Ace, hugs and kisses him all over, then proceeds to do the same with John. It’s quite emotional, and Bill loves animals of all kinds so I really wanted him to see it.

As I finished the story he looked at me and said, “Now that’s bringing heaven to Earth.”

So – the theme this month is – “bringing heaven to Earth.”
If you have a thought for what bringing heaven to Earth looks like to you (one or two sentences is fine) please step in (the blog, the circle) and share your thoughts.