To Attend or Not to Attend Reunions

Jun 24th, 2010 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

The season of reunions is beginning to strike at the heart of those of us who graduated 50 years ago.   It was 1960. Recalling or wanting to recall those times comes with the invitation to join with other seniors in a recollection of what was and a reconstruction of what has been.  Do we really want to do that?  Those times have been long buried, some deep enough that resurrection is not really desirable.  Some were pleasant and carry with them mutual satisfaction in their recall.  For many, life moved on and the tradition of participating in “remember when” carries little to no value.  For others it is a high and a regeneration of a time mystically glorious.

With the invitation comes the tension ”shall I or shall I not attend.”  For those for whom the experience was mostly positive and satisfying, the choice will be rather simple.  For others, for whom memories carry with them scars and pain, only now fading sufficiently not to want to bring them back up, the consideration will have different connotations.

It is like family reunions, there are some things gladly remembered and shared from the past.  There are some just as well forgotten. We would all like our past to be blissfully reminiscent of the “best times of our lives.”  It isn’t always so.  If your academic experience was reinforcing and useful to what came afterward, likely it is a time worth recalling.  If your social interactions were met with romance and good memories, then the past is a mellow moment, worth every second of replay.  If many of your friendships were perpetuated over the years because of intention and proximity and genuine friendship, you bet you will want to go and seek out those a part of that.  If you left those moments of genuine interplay and walked through a door that didn’t encourage looking back, then the experience of going back now will likely be less magnetic. 

Deciding to attend or not to attend is as varied as the persons whose invitation finally catches them off guard.  Do I really want to do this?  Will it be exhilarating  or boring?  Will it be a good time for my spouse, if I have one, who was not then a part of that time?  Will it be more than a greeting and a brief period for recollection and then silence?   Likely, if some interaction has taken place over the years, there may be more stimulus and pleasure derived from being together.  If this is the first or the only time of contact, it may feel much like many such occasions in which there is little in common that turns you on.  After the initial greeting and the chit chat about your job, before retirement, and the children, what then?  After the shock of seeing how much everyone has changed, and hiding that shock, what’s next?

Maybe reunions are an essential part of mortality.  Maybe they help us get in touch with our own aging, seeing ourselves in a different light, through a new mirror.  Maybe they help to humble us. Maybe they allow us to make things right, to clear things up, to ask for forgiveness, to apologize, to hug one last time.  Maybe they remind us of  how happy we were and how good it all was.  Maybe it brings the lustre of wonderful, unrepeatable memories back to us one more time.  Maybe, just remembering “the way we were,” is good for us, even if only for a few brief hours.  Maybe then we can let it all go and move on to the rest of our memory making  that will shape the lives we have chosen and are living now. Maybe that is why we have reunions.  Maybe that is why we attend.  Maybe it is a pivotal moment when all of what was, and all of what has been, and all of what is come together at one time, and we make peace with it all.  Maybe.  Maybe it helps us to let go of what might have been and to hold on to the loveliness of what is.



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