Recently, I got news that yet another high school classmate had passed away. These days, more and more of my former childhood acquaintances aren't showing up at reunions. Years go by without a word from some of these folks. And some are gone forever. When we lose touch with a piece of our past, oftentimes it's too late to catch up. The hands on the clock are insensitive to our need to slow down and reconnect with the people who once mattered to us. Time is oblivious to our cries for more hours in the day, more years to our lives.
Al Stewart recorded a song called "Time Passages" many years ago. I was thinking of these lyrics as I wrote this essay:
Well I'm not the kind to live in the past
The years run too short and the days too fast
The things you lean on are the things that don't last
Well it's just now and then my line gets cast into these
There's something back here that you left behind…
Though I'm not trying to sound nostalgic, it’s true that time passes quickly and life is short in retrospect. When we're young, we tend to think our life will last forever, and that nothing bad will ever happen to us. When we get older, we see that just isn't true. On the surface, people can appear successful, popular, and wealthy. That’s why we’re so surprised when their lives take a turn and they end up losing all we thought they had. Oftentimes, perceptions of others are colored by our own immaturity and the pursuit of "things that don't last". Have you ever thought of someone you once knew, and then filed them away in your mind, frozen in time as a figure in a wax museum? Later on, you might’ve been shocked to find that that person didn’t match your image of them. This can be a delightful discovery, or a total disappointment. I’ve come to believe that, either lots of people undergo great transformations in life -- or perhaps they never were who we thought them to be in the first place (or maybe it’s both!).
Recently, I've gotten reacquainted with some former classmates, and I've discovered many to be compassionate, hardworking, faithful individuals. Those I'd decided were out of my league in high school -- belonging to a different "caste system" than I -- turned out to be some of the most real and down-to-earth people I now know. I didn't think I had much in common with them at that time in my life, but now I see that they're just people like me who struggle with family matters, health conditions, and economic security. We are on a more even plane these days, as we really get to know each other in a way we couldn't have before. That's a blessing that I hope you get to experience in your life as well. Take a moment to reconnect with those from your former days, but don't put it off for too long. We never know how many days remain for any of us.