Isn’t it odd how some things catch you totally off guard when you least expect them to? As many of my friends know, I work late into the night every night … that’s my most productive time. No phones, no visitors, quiet time to ponder and produce.
I was doing just that last night when I received an unexpected e-mail from a high school classmate. Over the past few years, he has taken on a project of creating and updating a newsletter for graduates of our alma mater. He began by focusing on his own particular class, but it has since rapidly grown in popularity to include well over a decade of graduates. He sent me two newsletters to browse along with an invitation to join the mailing list.
To be honest, I planned on glancing at the newsletters and pretty much forgetting about the invitation as I’ve never been much of a “class reunion, good-ole-days, let’s-get-together-and-share-a-beer-as-we-recall-ole-times” type of guy. I’ve always focused more on the future than the past.
However, as I began browsing through the newsletter, I felt as though I had been struck between the eyes with a two-by-four swung by the 250 lb. fullback I played football with in the “good-ole-days”!
There, on those pages, I saw current pictures of old classmates and somehow they had changed to resemble what I recall as the appearance of parents and grandparents back in the day. Some looked only 10 years older—but still obviously older—while others looked as though they had aged 40 or 50 years! These were my friends, neighbors and classmates in high school! I couldn’t believe my eyes! They all looked fine—just a lot older! What happened?
Then it suddenly dawned on me that there’s more than a very good chance that I, too, resemble a grandpa. In fact, I am one—9 times over! I have children who have children who are nearing the age to have children! OUCH! Isn’t it amazing that we don’t see or feel ourselves aging every year because we do it so slowly. It’s only when you haven’t seen someone for a while that you noticed they’ve aged!
Anyway, I was far from finished being amazed. I then came across a page listing names of those classmates who are no longer with us … and the list was l-o-n-g! I can’t explain the empty feeling I experienced as I browsed that list! I saw names of girls I danced with at the after-game school hops. I saw names of guys I played baseball, basketball, and football with year after year after year. And now they’re gone! I found myself challenging what my eyes beheld.
A thousand thoughts ran through my mind. Astonished at those old friends who have left us. Grateful that I was still enjoying a wonderful life. Fear that I may be the next to join that list. And it’s not just an age thing here. You read every day about 25-year-old heart attack victims. You just never know.
I’m certainly not trying to be morbid here—that’s far from my style. However, these two newsletters provided me with a very strong dose of reality. Made me review how I’m spending my time. Made me wonder if I’m saying what I need to say to those I need to say it to. Made me rethink my priorities.
I’ve always been a big fan of a scene from Robin Williams’ portrayal of a college professor in Dead Poets Society. In fact, not long ago, I wrote a blog article about the movie and the theme of the phrase “CARPE DIEM” (Seize the Day!). That article contains a short video clip of Robin explaining this powerful phrase to his class. It’s a classic that everyone should see at one point in their lives! While it’s always been very dear to my heart, it now takes on an entirely different meaning to me. It forced me to question my life in hopes of assuring myself that I’m doing all I can do to “Seize the Day.”
Examine the two graphics above and appreciate the powerful message each provides. The sands of time are rapidly slipping through our hands and an approaching wave will soon dissipate the message in the sand. Think about it!
As a result of that midnight e-mail, I revisited that video clip, I’ve reordered a few priorities, I’ve gained a valuable perspective, I continue to respect my “Midnight Muses” … and I signed up for my high school alumni newsletter!