Forty years. It’s difficult to wrap my mind around, but it’s been that many years since I graduated high school. What this means, beside realizing yet again how old I am, is that the 40-year class reunion is coming. And coming soon.
For me, the class reunion I am attending is somewhat bittersweet. That’s because I did not actually graduate with the Olivet High School Class of 1979. I moved away from that small town in south central Michigan just after my sophomore year. Then, I moved, yet again, just after my junior year. That’s right, three different high schools in four years. I know, poor pitiful me. Not really, as it turns out. Though it sure felt like it at the time.
But I digress.
Although I attended school in Olivet, Michigan only four years – from 7th grade through 10th grade – I consider myself part of the 1979 graduating class of Olivet High School Class. You see those 4 years were some of the best of my youth. I developed so many meaningful friendships, had so many first-time experiences, and made so many memories.
Because of this, I am very much looking forward to this reunion. And you know what? I sense most of my fellow classmates are, too. I get this sense from the posts and comments I’ve been reading on social media. While certainly heartwarming , these posts and comments have also led me to do some self-reflection, which has in turn led me to this old, worn out cliché: “I wish we knew then, what we know now.”
You see, back then, like I’m sure it is today, there were the popular kids, the unpopular kids, and the kids that fell somewhere in between – neither fully accepted nor fully rejected by the other kids. From my perspective, the categorical dividing lines were most often based on social status, looks, who your other friends were, even on economic status (real or perceived), or various combinations of these factors. I’m not condoning it nor am I pointing any fingers (at others or myself). That’s just the way it was. As a result, some felt “left out.” I know this, because I fell into each of these categorical distinctions at some point during my youth.
But now. Now it doesn’t matter who you are – we want to be with you. It doesn’t matter who your friends are – we want to be your friend, too. It doesn’t matter your social status – we want to part of your social circle. It doesn’t matter how you look – shoot, we look old, too.
If only we’d all had these attitudes in our youth. Imagine the deeper and more numerous friendships we could have forged. Imagine the increased number of memories that we could have deposited into our memory bank. Imagine. Yep, that’s all we can do now, is imagine.
On the bright side, it’s clear our age has brought us at least a modicum of wisdom. We now celebrate each other’s successes and have faith for continued success. We now feel each other’s losses and hold out hope for better tomorrows. We now root for each other with a love only lifelong bonds can bring. We now practice the words the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Philippi almost 2000 years ago:
“[W]hatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Phil. 4:8, NIV)
Amazingly, we do this regardless of political or religious viewpoints; regardless of economic status; regardless of social status.
Yes, I wish we had made this a practice when we were younger. Then again, I’m sure my fellow classmates, like I, wish we had done many things that we hadn’t (and hadn’t done many things that we did).
We can’t change the past. We can only live in the present. We can only exercise the wisdom that our life experiences provide. Hopefully, as I am now seeing in my old classmates (and myself), that wisdom evinces itself in faith, hope, and love. With, of course, love being the greatest.
Happy 40th, Olivet High School Class of 1979!
I look forward to seeing all who can make it. We will miss all who cannot.