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Posted By Opening the Heart

   A few weeks ago I went to my 50th high school reunion. It was a great night, seeing old friends, meeting people who weren't friends but maybe, after connecting with them that night, realized they could have been. It was a hoot hearing how others had remembered or experienced me back in high school. Charlotte gave me a huge hug and pulled me over to meet her husband, James, whom I had played baseball with in junior high school (now known as middle school). I had a crush on Charlotte for three weeks my junior year of high school.

   So, in high school and college I lived for baseball. I remember looking out the window of my English class on the first floor to see how quickly the snow was melting because the sooner the field was dry, the sooner we would be out there breathing spring and throwing a ball and running the bases. My senior year David tried out for third base, my position. He was dating the coach's daughter, Susie. The coach, "Fergy", was a tough, old-school guy who took baseball very seriously. If he saw you throwing a snowball before practice started on March 1st, he'd keep you out of practice for two weeks for risking throwing your arm out.

   Well, the end of March I was cut from the team and I never really got over it. I didn't know what to do with myself after school. I was stunned. I didn't feel I deserved to be cut and I blamed David.... Cut to the reunion and I was talking with some of the guys who had played sports, remembering old times, telling stories, laughing, enjoying reliving memories. Then David came over. "Hi Jon". "Hi David." We all continued to talk but I was a little distracted and I began to think: "Jon, you're 68. The only way to be at peace with this is to go for it".

   So I said, "David, can I ask you a question?" "Sure, Jon". "David, did you really think you were better than me at third base our senior year?" He looked at me, puzzled. "What do you mean Jon?" "David, Fergy cut me from the team senior year. You ended up playing third base". "Jon, I didn't play third base. I sat on the bench most of the year. Terry played third".

   I was really stunned. It took me a minute to take in this new information. "Really? You didn't start at third?" "No, I only got into a couple of games". "David, I'm sorry, but I'm really happy". And I couldn't help being struck by living my life for 50 years with a myth: not ever having gotten over something that never happened. I got up and I scanned the room looking at faces and remembering. How many other myths for how many others in the room? There was Steve, always on the fringe in high school, never part of the crowd I was friendly with- never someone I took too seriously, or took the time to get to know. Steve, who came back from three tours in Vietnam, a shattered man, in trouble with alcohol and alienated from his wife and kids.

   I thought "wouldn't it have been something to look beneath the masks we held carefully in place 50 years ago- to be able to see deeper". Yes, probably would have been some trip! But more importantly,, in this moment, asking myself if I'm any more skilled at looking deeper than the masks or wounds- deep enough to see the compassion and humanity we all share.

   With Love and Respect, JonJon

 
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