Do you have an answer to that question?

What would you say to him?

It was odd walking into the dining area and seeing a room full of people, eyes staring back at you, as they try to figure out who was the next person to walk into the “how have they turned out” judgement sanctuary (it really wasn’t that bad, but it makes for a dramatic lead in sentence).  About 70 of us had come together for dinner, cocktails and “catching up” and after a couple hours of drinking, the conversations were becoming more and more interesting.  And then she asked the question…

What would you say to him?

It’s amazing how decades away from people can create such distance, but ironic how such a short amount of time together (and a few cocktails) can break down barriers as if we had just been in class together.  We rehashed stories, laughed at how we had all changed and then laughed even harder how some of us really hadn’t.  It was hilarious to even experience some of the same fears and insecurities about where to go after the party, what we’d talk about in small groups and even though it was a little intimidating to be around all of these people, it felt really comforting to see everyone. 

What would you say to him?

Reunions are an interesting tradition, especially those from high school.  I still remember walking the halls of my high school like it was yesterday and hell, truth be told, I still hang out with the same group of guys I did while attending high school, with the only subtle difference that we now meet out for dinner on Friday nights cruising in our own mini-vans, not our parents (sad, I know).  We’ve all heard and have probably used the cliché phrase, “time flies”, but this past weekend was living proof.  Some of us had gained weight, some of us had lost weight, some of us stayed the same, but overall…we had all appeared to grow up.  The conversations weren’t forced as they felt 20 years ago and the questions were genuine (as were the responses). 

What would you say to him?

At the tail end of the night, a friend of mine who had flown in fromCaliforniato join us for the “party” pointed to my name tag and asked, “What would you say to him?”  I was a bit taken back, partially because I had been drinking for 4 hours and was totally confused by who the hell she was talking about.  So when she hit me a little harder the second time and said, “What would you say to him?” she asked.  I laughed, because she was referring to the picture on my name tag (senior picture from ’91- and yes, I looked good), so all Socrates’esque I blurted out…If I could see myself 20 years ago, I’d tell “me” not to let others dictate who I was going to “be” and that what I was going to experience in those high school years was going to be a small part of a long and incredibly powerful walk through life, so don’t be too happy or too sad about how those years went.  That was exhausting, wasn’t it?  There aren’t any bad answers to a deep question like that, especially an answer fuelled by bad Coors Light from a golf course bar tap.

What would you say to him?

As I fought my two day hang-over and my wife had left with our kids for Florida (I’ll be meeting them at Disney on Friday), I’ve had some time to lay on the couch and contemplate what I would really say if I could bump into myself 20 years ago.  It would be pretty cool to be able to offer advice to yourself from the vantage point of a 20 year “look back”(but in reality, at 18, I wouldn’t have taken the advice, who am I kidding).  That aside, my answer is probably a little lengthier than the quick answer I gave at my reunion, so hear it goes…  I’d tell him to make more mistakes and that making mistakes is great proof that you really trying to experience things.  I’d tell him that “smart” isn’t defined by a grade point (I’ve watched friends carve negative paths out in life based around the stigma placed on them because they had less than A’s and B’s).  Irony strikes again because when all is said and done, the people who I knew with the C’s (and sometimes D’s) are as intelligent today as some of the 4.0 students I knew.  I’d tell him to welcome everyone into his circle and then determine whether they were good for him, not to go the opposite route and judge first (because you never know who you might need in your circle 20 years from now).

 What would you say to him?

What would you say to yourself if you had the chance?  It’s interesting to reflect back and it excites me for one main reason.  We are going to keep on learning.  I’m only 38 and if I’m fortunate to be on this planet for another 30, 40 or 50 years I hope I can look back and laugh about how little I knew at 38.  That, to me, is the greatest part about the lives we live.  Our life experiences keep growing, changing and morphing and we probably won’t recognize it until decades have passed us by.

Thanks for the questionKrishna.  It was great seeing all of you from the class of ’91 and I’ll be curious to know what our conversations feel like in another 20 years and what advice we might be able to give our younger selves in 20 more years.

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