Sunday, November 16, 2008

Greetings Pointers

- You know, when you started getting invited to your ten year high school reunion, time is catching up.
- Are you talking about a sense of my own mortality or a fear of death?
- Well, I never really thought about it quite like that.
- Did you go to yours?
- Yes, I did. It was just as if everyone had swelled.

This time it's not the 10th, it's the 25th! Time's caught up, passed, and kept right on book'n. Here's the thing with me and my high school experience: I didn't really like it, not even a little. However, those 4 years played as large a role in the development of my persona as any in my life. It was sink or swim with so many unthinkable things going on. Frankly there is no way in our litigious society that the Kent School of the early 80s could be allowed to exist. It was Lord of the Flies. If it were today and just one of the many beaten and humiliated kids stepped up and talked, lawyers would have shut it down. At the same time there is no doubt I left there a different person. I'll stop short of saying better; I was not better. I was different. Where I had been a somewhat naive (not totally, as I had already witnessed/endured some of the dark side of man) boy when I entered, I left as a more jaded, at times cruel, definitely devious, and ironically self-confident and mentally impenetrable young man. I discovered that smart really could trump strong or popular. But it would be years until I learned to harness these skills which had been unearthed, and in the time leading up to that enlightenment I'd make plenty of regrettable decisions.

But here I sit 25 years later and I do think I'm a better person. Definitely better than I was then. That mental toughness carries me through grueling workouts, races, and life in general. I bend but never break. And now I do not use this talent to defy someone else, but rather I try to hold it up as an example for others. As human beings we are capable of so much more than we know. Never start from a position of compromise. Always strive for excellence and let the inner strength help you persevere. And in the end if you come up a little short of that ideal goal, well then humility helps you accept it and the indomitable spirit persuades you to try it again.

So here's the question: Do I become the person I am today if I don't go to Kent? Do I owe anything for the skills unearthed or am I owed for the scars left behind. Obviously that can never be answered. And while nobody who went there is part of my life, nor do I seek them to be, there is a bit of curiosity as to what others have discovered and/or become.

Still I doubt I'll go.