First of all, I’m not going to regale you with the baloney the reunion companies tend to pummel us with: “Everyone else there knows how old you are”, etc., etc., blah-blah, blah.
Simply put: We were STUPID KIDS then. In the meantime, life has beaten us up a bit and we’ve gotten smarter (hopefully!).
First Item: It’s important to have someone who knew you when you were a kid!
Personally speaking, my 30 year high school reunion was last weekend. Most of the people that were there, I saw at the 20 year reunion. Some of them hadn’t been to the 10 year or 20 year.
Example 1: One fellow that I spoke to, I had been to grade school with, (not middle/jr. high school), but high school. I knew him on sight (even though he lost hair), he knew me on sight (even though I am mostly gray). We NEVER had a single class together, from first grade through senior year. Almost IMPOSSIBLE? No. I’m sure it happens all the time in larger schools/populations.
In high school, I said “Hi Steve!” to him in the halls, and he said “Hi Charlie!” to me. We knew (and know) ALL of the same (grade school and high school) people. Two years ago, he and I both attended the funeral of our friend (an American hero). I didn’t see this man there, but he was there (told me about what happened, how I spoke at our friend’s open eulogy, and yes he was there).
When I shook his hand at the reunion, he said “Hi Charlie!”, just the same as 30+ years ago. He was (and is) one of the nicest guys!
Example 2: I re-met in person, a fellow I saw at the 20th, super-nice, keeping in touch on Facebook. He personally hugged me 4 times (speaking words of encouragement about my mother’s cancer). He works an indoor-outdoor trade, construction/landscaping and is always THINKING! One of the brightest and way more importantly, KINDEST people I have ever known.
Example 3: I re-met the homecoming queen. Her brother was in my mother’s cub scout den, and I have literally known her and her family for 40+ years.
She is the sweetest, most generous woman I re-met that night (a nurse at a children’s hospital).
Example 4: I re-met some folks that were really on the boundary of my active friends. Acquaintances, friends of my friends that I knew of, but didn’t actually KNOW. I hope to actively engage with them and become better acquainted too.
Second Item: It’s important to build your network (networking has too many negative connotations of schmoozing at the cocktail party, that people don’t like) and to STAY CONNECTED! Everyone thinks that they are well connected until they discover that they’re not. You are going to need these people someday. More importantly, they are going to need what YOU can contribute. That’s what being friends really means: What can I contribute to my friends? How can I help THEM?
Example 1: In a recent blog post Quid pro quo (You can’t play ping pong by yourself), Seth Godin writes about building trust. I’ll let you read the post and form your own opinion.
Example 2: How many people do you want to affect / effect? When you leave this life, how many people do you want to say “Dang! I really LIKED [your name goes here]! I WANT to go to [his/her] funeral. We don’t last forever. Make a big splash in the gene pool!
What ISN’T happening at the reunion:
- Jealousies: Too much time has passed for THAT baloney.
- One-upmanship. Again, success is measured differently, and most folks understand that.
- Strutting, OK there was a little of that, (and more of that as the alcohol was flowing), which was why I made it a point of NOT DRINKING at the reunion. You want to see people as they really are. Booze exaggerates that (whether you’re drinking or everyone else is). When people are drunk, they show who they really are (kind, loving, belligerent, angry, sad, etcetera, but exaggerated by the alcohol.
All in all, I had a great time catching up with old friends, and making some new ones. You will too!
I am sure that I can claim all of them as “Lifelong Friends”.
Charles McCrumb, Office Automation Expert
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