Two summers ago, in 2012, my high school class held its 30 year reunion. I had followed the planning on Facebook for the better part of a year. Although it didn’t matter.
I wasn’t going.
I don’t have fond memories of high school, the way some of my friends do. It was a stressful time. I was insecure and dorky and generally felt like I was just taking up space on earth someone else could better use. So the thought of meandering down that memory lane with what were essentially a bunch of total strangers didn’t appeal to me in any way. (You can read my post about why I wasn’t going in this post.)
At the last minute, I went.
I can’t explain why. It was just this little feeling in the back of my brain that said, “Go.” So about 48 hours before the event, I called Anne, the girl organizing the reunion. I asked if I could still come and if she needed help.
The answer to both was “Yes!”
I suggested to Anne that maybe I could collect information from everyone, like current contact information, where they work, where they live, how many kids they have, stuff like that. She said yes, that she would use it to help give away door prizes (like who traveled the farthest to get there; the winner of that one: from Africa).
But I had an ulterior motive: I was on deadline for a column. When you’ve got writer’s block the best thing you can do is do something different. If I had contact information for people, I could get in touch with them later if I needed to.
So I went to the reunion, manned the sign in table, gave people their drink tickets, and took photos. Much to my surprise, I had a great time. (You can read all about the night in this post.)
I reconnected with a few people I had known in school. Spent time with a few people I’d become friends with since school. Met a few new people. Made a few new friends.
One of those friends is Pauline.
Pauline said that night that she wished we’d known each other in high school. I laughed and told her we had known each other in high school. I’d even been to a party at her house. But no matter. We were friends now.
Fast forward two years. I’ve kept in touch with a lot of the people I saw that night, and am grateful for the friendships both born and rekindled that night. And I’m especially grateful for Pauline. We’re both writers and we’ve been encouraging each other in both our personal and creative lives.
Recently, Pauline made national headlines when she publically quit her teaching job, citing concerns over Common Core and other changes to the educational system that she felt were hampering the ability for students to actually learn in school.
On Facebook, I noticed over and over again people telling her it was time to “write her book”, something she’d been talking about for a while. Pauline responded, “When things calm down I’m going to see if I can find a publisher.”
Last fall, WordCrafts Press published a book of my columns and I recently signed on to do some freelance acquisitions for them, bringing in new projects and helping the authors from contract to publication. When I saw Pauline’s post, I sent her a message: When you’re ready, I have a publisher for you.
Last week, Pauline signed a contract with WordCrafts Press to write a book offering parents advice on how to prepare their children to be successful in school. Guess who’s her editor through the project? Me.
One of my favorite quotes is from Cardinal John Henry Newman. It comes from his prayer, “The Mission of My Life”:
God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments.
I was thinking last night: what if my own insecurities had kept me from going to the reunion? What if, when I asked if I could still attend, Anne had said, “No, it’s too late”? What if Pauline and I hadn’t talked that night? What if…?
I would have missed out on seeing people I used to know. I would have missed out on making new friends; we had so much fun, Tammy (who I didn’t know in school), Lisa (who I’d known a bit since elementary school) and I put together a little “reunion redux” over the holidays. Tammy and Lisa are two of my closest friends now. I don’t really have girlfriends; what a gift Tammy, Lisa and Pauline have been to me.
How many times have you ignored the urge to pick up the phone, go to an event, do some small gesture that you thought was insignificant? That decision may have denied you a life changing experience. More importantly, how has it affected someone else’s life?
I’ve learned over the years how important it is to obey that voice in the back of your head that says, “Go” or “Do”. We may not ever know how our decision to obey it affects the lives of other people. But we can be sure that if your spirit is urging you, there’s a reason.
You are a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. You are created for a purpose. Fulfill your purpose and maybe you’ll also help others fulfill theirs.
This post is part of my series, “50 thoughts on turning 50″. Read more here.