Do most people on Earth have as much difficulty in letting stuff go as I do? They probably do. Don’t we like to cling onto our suffering believing we are being “stoic” about it? After all, don’t we generally fear the unknown? Do we dwell upon our suffering and sacrifice because they are familiar? On the other hand, isn’t it quite easy to let go of other things?
Sometimes we hang onto old things because they remind us of events and people we admired and loved in the past. We gloss over the suffering we shared with them and inflate the golden times we enjoyed with them. Other things are easy to disregard.
Does clinging to our tragedies and to our past glories cause further suffering? Is there something to be learned about the rest of the stuff we disregard? These are highly personal questions that require thoughtful, balanced contemplation.
This year is the 50th anniversary of my high school graduation. Due to the global pandemic, apparently, we will not have any traditional reunion, dinner, and socializing in person. I have not been notified of any on line class reunion either. I reached out to a few former classmates with whom I’ve kept limited contact. They have not returned my inquiry nor responded in any manner. I assume there will be no celebration of any type.
I usually give little or no thought to my high school days. They were fairly unremarkable. I wasn’t a sports star or member of the thespians, so there is no reason to live in a glorified past. I endured more bullying than normal, but much less than a few other classmates. If I had to rank my high school status, it would be in the lower, mid-tier of the hierarchy. I wasn’t one of the popular kids nor one of the shunned group. I was kind of “invisible” and liked it that way.
After graduation, it was very easy to let go. I eagerly looked forward to the idealized future. Life has treated me OK. As is the case for most folks, there have been some tragedies and some personal victories. Interspersed among the years have been a couple of class reunions that were celebrated on decade anniversaries. I skipped the ten-year party but attended the 20th and 30th reunions.
I didn’t go to the 40th because the 30th reunion was a fiasco that left several of us quite unhappy. Yet, it would be great to have gotten together in person for a 50th. I’d like to see who’s still alive, who is still reasonably healthy, and it would be interesting to catch up on the lives of the former classmates I actually liked.
“Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.”–novelist, painter, and poet, Hermann Hesse
A 50th anniversary could also be revealing. Would the guys who lettered in football again strut their stuff as they still did 20 years ago? Would the “prima donna”, popular girls still be stand-offish or would they have matured more gracefully? Would we congregate within the same cliques we occupied during school days and past reunions? It’s not that I care very much about these questions. It’s more a matter of amusement and finding closure. “Glory days” feel stale and thinking about them brings about a short spell of ennui.
This lack of a 50-year class reunion is unfortunate, but I won’t lose any sleep over it. There are no strong personal ties to any of my former classmates. I ended up becoming as indifferent to most of them as they were to me. Yes, it would have been enjoyable to touch base with my former clique even though we were never really close-knit.
It’s a matter of letting it go again. There are much more important matters to take care of today.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes author and conference speaker, Roger von Oech. “It’s easy to come up with new ideas; the hard part is letting go of what worked for you two years ago, but will soon be out-of-date.”