Over the holiday season I attended a reunion of my high school class. A commonplace activity many participate in over the years but this traditional act was one I had never participated in before. I don’t know exactly why I hadn’t. Perhaps there were more important things going on in my life every time a reunion came up. Life happens that way.
But it had been forty-two years since I had actually seen most of these folks. Sad to say, perhaps, but high school simply didn’t mean as much to me as it did to others. I guess, as an army brat, I simply had changed schools too many times to get attached to any one particular school. I heard of the get-together on social media, participated in the discussion about it, and signed up to attend, so I did.
My high school graduated about 600 students in 1970. I remember in an assembly of our sophomore year we were told we would be the largest class to ever graduate. Oh, yes we were a large class. It was an easy time and place to get lost in. No way could we all have known each other, much less remember each other.
Less than forty of us met that night at a well-known restaurant. So few out of so many. Some had gone, some moved too far away to return for the little affair, and perhaps some who simply wanted to stay home instead. I could not help but think as I looked around the small gathering about those ubiquitous notes we all wrote in each other’s yearbooks: “Stay the way you are. . . Don’t ever change” Oh, but we had! I was reminded of a little piece I wrote long ago for my personal web site:
Benjamin Franklin said there is nothing certain in this life but death and taxes. Benjamin Franklin was wrong. There is another constant in the universe other than death and taxes. It is change.
Change always happens. It happens whether we want it or not, like it or not, will it or not, accept it or not. It is always with us.
Life changes; circumstance changes; people change. Despite all the fervent wishes that were written in our old high school yearbooks: "Stay the way you are. Don't ever change.", it happens. The streets we once knew well look different now and lead to entirely different places. We look in the mirror and say, "Who is that? That can't be me. My hair is longer . . . shorter. . .darker. . .thicker." But it is us.
Change. Sometimes subtle; sometimes obvious. Creeping up on us so slowly we barely note the difference. Blowing us into new directions so hard we do not have time to take a breath.
Children grow up. Parents get older . . . frailer. That stretch of wilderness we explored and loved is by the freeway now and Wal-Mart is building a store there.
We can grab a branch and try to hang on. We can close our eyes and refuse to see. We can stick our fingers in our ears and sing songs very loudly like we used to do when we were children. It still happens. Change . . . always change.