Celebrating My 50th Reunion

“When time which steals our years away

Shall steal our pleasures, too,

The mem’ry of the past will stay

And half our joys renew.”

This is a quotation by Thomas Moore, a 19th century poet and song writer from Ireland. I recently found it in my Mount Allison year book from 1966 along with my graduation picture. I have no idea why I chose this particular quote by this poet to sum up my years as an under graduate of the Arts at Mt. A as I was about to embark upon the world that awaited me. I only recall that I made the decision to use this in haste, after desperately combing through a book of quotations none of which seemed quite appropriate to express my particular feelings on such a momentous event. This would have to do, I thought.  Would I choose it today? Very likely not, as much water has passed under the bridge since that day bringing much change and growth. Thank goodness! Then, on second thought maybe I would! Let me explain.

After a whirlwind trip to celebrate my 50th reunion in Sackville, N.B. where Mt. A is located, I dug out my year book and found those long-forgotten words. I have to admit I was quite baffled by my choice and was struggling to even remember anything about Thomas Moore. The only Thomas Moore I could relate to was our modern-day American psychotherapist and writer of books about the soul – Care of the Soul and Soul Mates. 

After reading about the Irish Thomas Moore, the pieces of the puzzle as to why I probably made this choice became clearer. After all, don’t the choices we make in life reflect that stage in life we find ourselves, and don’t they yield terrific insight into our character and what makes us tick? Perhaps I had not made such a ridiculous choice after all?

Here is what I found about Thomas Moore the author of my quotation. First of all he was not only a poet, but also a singer, song writer, entertainer, and biographer. In fact, he was often referred to as the Irish bard just as Robbie Burns was called the Scottish bard. He was a man of the people. He was happily married to an actress with whom he had five children. Unfortunately, all of them died before he did which distressed him deeply. That, along with financial problems at various times in his life, were his main crosses to bear. He became good friends with Lord Byron supporting his belief that Greece should be an independent state. He also supported the emancipation of the Irish from the Catholic Church and strongly disagreed with Thomas Jefferson, the President of the US, for his support of slavery. He was a man who cared for people and wasn’t afraid to speak out against the wrong doings of his time. He was a very personable man genuinely liked by most people who knew him. The words used to describe him were honest, affectionate, independent, and high-minded. Wow! I would like to meet such a man today.

After learning all this, I realised I hadn’t made such a ridiculous choice after all. This quotation wasn’t just a trivial bit of nostalgia as I first thought. It goes much deeper and is certainly appropriate not just for a graduation but also for a reunion 50 years down the road. Yes, reunions can stir up many memories, some good and some bad. I guess this is why some people find it difficult attending them as they remember only the bad stuff. I have learned it’s best to let the bad go and remember only the good which as Moore says is about half – if we are lucky! Can we really ask for more, I wonder? So at this reunion choosing only to remember the good stuff, I found myself delighting in reconnecting with old friends and even old boyfriends who may have caused so much grief back then. This time around, I even got better acquainted with those I never got to know when I was there, so I made new friends as well. I actually felt like I was part of a big family where we had all come together from hither and yon to celebrate a milestone in our varied lives. We had made it to our 50th for which we received pins in honour of our doing so. It really was something to celebrate rather than something to avoid. Over the years I did attend a few not so memorable reunions. However, this one was totally different for me and will go down as not only memorable but fun. Upon reflection I realise that a satisfactory outcome to attending school/college reunions is all about how we approach them which is reflective of the changes we have undergone in our life’s journey.

One further thought I have on the subject of attending reunions especially the 50th and those beyond is that they can also be a kind of wake up call for us. The reality is that we are all getting older and do we really know what amount of time we have left? As we were all winding up our weekend, I heard this sentiment from some as we said our ‘good byes’ and wished each other well until our next one in five years time. It’s true that some of us might not make the next one. Somehow I suspect that many of us will. I sure hope so! I was particularly inspired by the class of ’46 who were enthusiastically represented by four gentlemen well into their 90’s who gave a rousing tribute to their class. They were the stars of the whole show. They were living proof that we really can get better with age just like the proverbial red wine. My wish is that there will be some of us from the class of ’66 who will be as feisty as those four men from the class of ’46 when our turn comes round in twenty years. Wouldn’t that be something!

Point your cursor on each of the images to see the captions below. 

A Moment of Happiness

Our house this autumn from the back looking toward the sea.

Our house this autumn from the back looking toward the sea.

With all the horrible stuff happening in the world every day, it’s no surprise to hear that many people are beginning to lose hope. Is it any wonder that depression is on the rise as we are bombarded with negativity from all fronts? Natural disasters due to climate change, famines, government deficits, corruption, growing disparity between the rich and poor, Isis and the growing threat of terrorism, dealing with the deluge of refugees looking for a safe haven, not to mention smaller crimes of passion, rape, and theft are making an endless list. At times it does appear that our world is facing one of its darkest hours. But before this becomes too depressing let’s consider that our planet has seen dark periods before when culture and learning declined from about the 6th to the 12th century A.D. during what was called the “Dark Ages”. We must remind ourselves that this dark period eventually waned to give way to the light once again.

The main question is how do we as individuals cope with all this bad stuff? I expect the answers to such a question are as varied as the people who take the time to consider it. One common solution is to turn off the TV and quit reading newspapers which some are doing but is that really all we can do and is it enough? I don’t think it is because I think we need to know what is happening in the world. Without the facts how can we as citizens make informed choices regarding not only our personal lives but for the betterment of our society? Based on my own personal experiences and the knowledge I have gained from teachers, reading, and conversations, I have discovered that the answer is really quite simple and can be summed up in one word: LOVE.

In its broader context, it is about each of us making the choice to live our life out of love rather than fear. I have a difficult time accepting the fact that the world will ever reach a point where all of us will ever make such a choice. There are some who feel this will eventually happen with the appearance of the Maitreya ( a World Teacher) heralding in a long stretch of peace with no wars. If you Google Share International, you can touch base with the organization and learn more. To me this is idealism to the extreme. Do we not have to have the yin and the yang or the positive and the negative to balance things out? It’s all much food for thought. All each of us can do is make a choice to lead our life driven by the one or the other. If we choose love then we need to look within  and accept ourselves, flaws and all. This is called self-love and where the journey begins. If we can take this first step and really work at it, then we can truly love others and the world around us. This makes perfect sense to me and is my answer for combating depression and, thus, contributing in a small way to helping our ailing planet with its multitude of problems. Those of us who accept this premise can be examples not only to our families and friends but all the other people we will meet on our life’s journey.

If we choose to conduct our life from a base of fear, then we will hinder our personal growth and basically retrench. We won’t be using our talents or creativity to the extent we can and most probably will become bored with life. We certainly won’t be leaving much of an impression to our children and grandchildren. No thank you, this would not be my choice.

So if we choose love as our goal, then how do we get there? As I have already stated it has to begin by taking a good look at what makes us tick and be willing to do something about the parts we don’t like. I know that this can be scary stuff for many because I have met more than my fair share of people over my life time who won’t go there. After all it requires that we change things in our lives and risk losing old support systems which in many cases have become simply crutches. Self-love is the first step and it won’t come to us on a silver platter or from others. After facing our ‘shadow’ (a Carl Jung term) or that negative part of our personality, we can then begin the journey. This may come easy for some but for many of us, myself included, it becomes a life-long journey. We may stumble, or fall, or even give up for a while.  Some of us may not achieve it in this life time and will have to come back and try again in the next one. This picture gets clearer by the day to me as I see similar messages on Facebook, or in such books as the one I am presently reading by Gary Zukav entitled Soul to Soul. The overall theme of his book is that we must create our own authentic power through aligning our personalities with our souls. We can do this by acknowledging the negative part of our personality that causes destructive actions and be willing to change that to positive actions. In other words, we can choose to live a life of revenge or compassion. None of this is easy as I have discovered, but it’s certainly worth a try because I would rather be a patient, kind, and loving person as opposed to one who is seen as impatient, selfish, and hateful.

Having said all this, I would like to share with you the learning I have gained since I started on this journey of striving to live a life with love rather than fear:

  • I have learned that I must slow down and take time to revel in some of the simple things in life. One of the simple things for me is to take delight in all the nature around me. Recently when I stopped to look out my living room window shortly after rising to greet a new day, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of utter happiness. There before me was a sunny, autumn day showcasing the orange and golds of the trees across the road, the white picket fence of our neighbour, and in the distance the deep blue of the sea and the Point Prim lighthouse. Where did this feeling actually come from? Was it triggered by the view from my window or was it something on a grander scale such as a sign or message from the Universe? I like to think it was a sign from the Universe because it happened when I was in a negative state of mind and feeling despondent about letting go of things which no longer served any purpose in my life. I am certain that this brief moment of total joy was sent to remind me that I had so much to be thankful for. It helped me to understand that being happy has much to do with living in the moment and not sifting through the past or anticipating a future which hasn’t even arrived. It’s about seizing such a blissful moment and savouring it for all it’s worth because those moments can be rare.
    View from my living room window taken in November weeks after my "Happy Moment"

    View from my living room window taken in November weeks after my “Happy Moment”

    Looking over Digby Gut to Point Prim.

    Looking over Digby Gut to Point Prim.

  • Another learning is that we mustn’t be afraid to open up our hearts and sometimes take that risk of having them broken. Although this can be a painful experience, on the other hand, it can help us to grow stronger and better by viewing the cause of our pain with compassion rather than revenge. If we are into self growth many people we meet will disappoint us so we must be careful to not become bitter about that. However, there will always be those who are on the same path as ourselves, so if we listen to the Universe and keep on living a life based on love, we will eventually meet up with them.
  • I have also learned more about trust –   with myself, others, and, of course, the Universe. I have to trust that I can accomplish any task or project I take on to the best of my ability at the time. If I fail then let it be a learning experience rather than give up on it. I have to trust in others that they will be there for me when they are needed, and that I not be afraid to ask for help or give it in return when asked. Finally, to trust in the Universe that my life will unfold just as it is meant to and that there is always some thing or one looking out for me. This latter idea of someone there to look over me is hugely important when I am travelling on my own.
  • My final thought or learning on how to operate out of love is to get involved with people no matter how they may have let me down in the past. Finding compatible groups of people is always a challenge, but I have found that all groups have their positive aspects if I approach them with love rather than fear. We need people no matter where we are so choose to not give up on them.

For me the most difficult part of loving myself has been knowing when to let go of that part of my life which no longer serves me well. This can be old beliefs, habits, jobs, people or things. Over time, I have let go of many things but not easily. There was always much angst involved. I tend to hang on too long because I am an idealist who hopes the situation or person will change for the better. Or maybe it’s because I won’t have to be responsible for making a decision that could be risky at best. It’s also been about the fear of doing the wrong thing at the wrong time. Let’s just say that letting go wouldn’t have been so agonizing if I had only listened to my heart. In the end, the decision always got made one way or the other, and I must give myself credit for being brave enough to do something. I can honestly say, however, that once done a wonderful sense of freedom always followed. Letting go of the old put me in that realm  of new possibilities which is always exhilarating. To me this is what keeps life interesting and may allow for those wonderful moments of pure happiness.

October scenes of Victoria Beach.

October scenes of Victoria Beach.

The Fundy Rose ferry at dock in Digby taken from Victoria Beach.

The Fundy Rose ferry at dock in Digby taken from Victoria Beach.