Thursday, May 31, 2012

Why I'm not going to my high school reunion

Today members of my year at high school are having a 25-year reunion. I was invited, but decided I didn't want to attend.

First of all, I don't remember many people who were in my year at high school. I have kept in touch with two of my close friends, but apart from that, I hardly ever remember anyone or anything from my high school years. The reunion organizers sent me the year photo (see above), and I looked at the faces. Most of them didn't trigger any recollections at all. Since the first names are only initials, in many cases I don't even remember their names. I assume that the impression I made on others was similarly slight.

It seems to me that the emotions and behaviours raised by a reunion would be largely negative, and reflecting a sort of competitiveness I dislike. People would engage in showing off, judging, comparing, in some cases perhaps insulting each other, while in other cases people would be tempted to lie and to distort their life stories in an attempt to gain respect. I don't think such an event would encourage people to be authentic.

At the time, I was part of this group of people, for better or worse, and this was an arbitrary grouping based on place of residence. We usually have to associate with people we share some context with (school, work, etc.), and these are not necessarily the people we would choose as friends. Now, 25 years later, I don't see why most of these people would be anything more than strangers, with no relevance to my current life. If I have to spend time meeting a group of strangers, it would be more worthwhile, in my opinion, for this to happen in a setting where we would have something in common in the present or some shared future.

For me the past has only a limited impact on my present life. I remember what I consider important from it, but I don't have a strong emotional connection to people and events from long ago. Many philosophies and spiritual practices urge people to "be in the moment", and it seems to me that excessive nostalgia contradicts this idea.