Sunday, July 20, 2014

Churchill High School Class of 1984: To strive, to seek, to find

Originally, I had planned to allow my pre-reunion article stand on its own merit and become the sole thoughts shared of this incredible celebration we all experienced. Then, while headed home, some words from a Tennyson poem blasted into my head and would not escape. They were words that brought it all home  reminding me just how unique our experience seems to have been.

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

In the literary world, there is much debate over the meaning of the poem in its entirety and this last few lines. Some saw it objectively, some as irony. I choose to see this the way I see the Churchill High School Class of 1984; a heroic approach to the world.

We are each endowed with our own unique skills, abilities and providence which make a general "soul" of the individual. Each of us on an individual basis will be made weak by time and fate, but if we are strong in will, and do not yield, there is nothing that cannot be accomplished.

As a group, I feel this unique character and bond that I simply cannot know whether others experience this unique blend of character. What we do know is that well over 100 Lancers showed up this weekend to celebrate life together. There were stories from high school which made us laugh; and there were private and personal anecdotes shared between former classmates which brought people great emotion.

We each have the capacity to have an impact on every person with whom we come in contact. It seems that this group, has used that ability to make the shared experience one which is full of positive moments.

I never knew that Tina (Vanourney) Ehrig was a transplant into this school in eighth grade. Hearing stories from others whose ability to adapt was made possible through incredible individuals brought that character even closer to the heart.

Nevertheless, what makes us all so special is really ineffable. We seem to have developed a sort of group consciousness which allows us to have individual character alongside a group character. Many of us have grown children. Many more have teenagers, and there is, of course, Navid who has a toddler and baby on the way. We have grandchildren in our collective and couples who have been together for nearly the entire time we have been gone from Churchill.

As I talked to, quite literally, hundreds of people over the weekend, it kept coming back to some form of unique bond. My wife Leslie, who is seven years younger than us, was quite surprised at our ability to celebrate together.

The fact that two nights in a row, we were able to carry on until after one o'clock in the morning speaks volumes to our collective love of life. If not something also about our love of drink!

I loved every single moment of this weekend. I will cherish every conversation, every smile, every laugh and every tear we shared this weekend. I will cherish the time on the golf course, and the laughs shared after. Karaoke Friday night was fun, but it seemed even more fun with the impromptu event on Saturday night.

Rich Shaw kicked off that festivity and, at the urging of Kim, Jack Byrne simply "nailed it" with one of my favorite "guilty pleasure songs" of the eighties. Explaining why I like that song is kind of like explaining why this group of people work so well together; there simply are not words. There are tears. Laughs. Sweat. Hugs. There is a love. What we have is rare and I think we all cherish it in our own way. Is that why we can get together and have such great times? Maybe.

But as I said prior, it really is all about the people. Kim, Michele, Amy and Jack all did an incredible job making this not just a "quickie" night at the bar, but making it an extravaganza. Without their dedication and hard work, none of this would be possible.

"All through life we cling to many errors, and take care never to examine their ground, merely from a fear, of which we ourselves are unconscious, of possibly making the discovery that we have so long and so often believed and maintainers is false."

I have a saying I kind of look at as a life mantra. If you wish to subject everything to yourself, then subject yourself to everything.

I wish I could thank every single person I talked to this weekend; every person  I shared a laugh with; every person who went out of their way to give me a hug. 

And, to answer that question posed all afternoon at the pool. yes, it was hot as hell in that suit!

We continue to strive; we continue to seek; we continue to find; we continue to never yield. Asa  group, that makes us special. As individuals it makes us better. Thank you all for a wonderful weekend. Thank you all for an amazing growth experience we called high school.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Churchill High School Class of 1984: Duality brings us perspective

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” So begins the Dickens classic A Tale of Two Cities. While this timeless tale was a story about the French Revolution and its impact on two cities, it also had a deeper and more spiritual core which we all live; duality. Duality is a life force we cannot escape. Rather than looking to escape this duality, we as a collective, embraced this struggle and made the world a better place.

What makes the Winston Churchill High School class of 1984 special? Everything and nothing. It is that duality that has defined not just each individual member of this class, but the class as a whole.

High school is a unique time in our lives. We are growing and learning about ourselves. There is so much inner angst and turmoil at these changes, yet we only see the world through the filtered lens of our own personal psyche. We know little about this duality and even less about the world. But we think we know, and that is what creates the power to change.

We all have our struggles. Mine were with adaptation. Learning to live and love in a place where I had no history. We were a class of 301 which is special. We can all look at that last one and say to ourselves “I was that one of three hundred and one.” I did. I was that last one. Making it to graduation almost did not happen for me. To make it to that day was special because it involved an incredible journey full of sacrifices and hard work.

While most of our classmates spent their senior year with a relatively light load in the classroom, I was taking ten or more classes every day. I made mistakes which resulted in the necessity of that work. Getting to graduation was a struggle, but it paved the way for my future. I wanted to get there. I had to work. I learned how to push myself to the very limits and come out on top.

I suppose some of this can be traced to running over 100 miles every week while competing in cross country and track, but I had never applied that kind of effort to the things that matter most. School. Life. Suddenly, as I embarked on life as an adult, anything seemed possible. Not only was anything possible. Everything was possible. Duality. Each of us had a similar journey, yet unique in each individual.

We lived in our own minds, our own world; our own lives. We did so because we were not yet able to see outside ourselves. That is a natural process that keeps us alive; survival of the fittest.

It would not be until the next generation entered the world; our own children; that we would begin to see this duality played out in front of our eyes. I had two boys, three years apart. They were a mini-duality of my life. Watching them grow, I suddenly saw things I could not imagine. Struggle. Pain. Love. Laughter. Tears. All those things that defined our lives as high school students were right there in my life and it all came rushing back.

On graduation night, we heard many inspiring words about what the future would hold. Some embraced those words, some chose to ignore them, some even scoffed. Platitudes they seemed to many. Nonetheless, those very words proved to have a fundamental basis in truth. All things were possible and all things were just beginning for the class of 1984. The journey wasn’t over, it had just begun.

As we gather thirty years later to celebrate these moments that began to define us, we have all grown and made our own impact. There are police officers, firemen, former military, school teachers, doctors, lawyers, dentists, coaches. These are people who have made an impact on the world through their business or personal endeavors.  And these are but just a few of the many ways we would impact the world. There are many others, too many to list. And that is the power of the collective.

Collectively, we have traveled the world. Collectively we have taught thousands of children. We have saved lives and given life. We have created culture. We have done many things as a group and that is something in which we can all take Lancer Pride.

Along this journey of life, we have lost some of our companions to accident and tragedy. Another lesson we all learned; life is fragile. We have to embrace the life we have because there is no other life to embrace. I think we have all done this in our unique ways.

There was a time when many of us struggled with our own identity. I think that time is gone. We have become an incredible group full of incredible individuals. Andy Warhol once said that everyone gets their fifteen minutes of fame. While that may be true, it is not that fifteen minutes that define us, rather it is everything before and after those fifteen minutes which defines our mind, our body and our soul.

The namesake of our school, Sir Winston Churchill, gave us many, many quotes. To me, the one that seems apropos for this gathering is as follows:

"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

We have come so far in thirty years. The journey, however, is far from over. The end of the beginning.

What made the class of 1984 special? It was the people. It was always about the people.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A new beginning

Tomorrow marks a new day; a new beginning.

It has been a difficult struggle for me over the last year. I have been balancing many things including my inability to separate the writing from the writer.

While this all began as a bit of an experiment, there was always plenty of accolade for what was done; when I tried to become that which I had originally opposed; a journalist; it backfired on my psyche.

While I could say I was trying to be objective, the criticism was difficult on a personal level. I had not yet separated the writing from the writer. I took criticism too personal.

Over the course of the last seven months I have worked to simply find my own voice again. At times, I  thought the voice was lost forever. At other times, I thought that the receivers simply did not get the voice. I thought it was they who were lost.

Today, I recognize that neither was lost; only my recognition of where reality lay.

Tomorrow, I begin a new chapter in my writing life as I have found a voice for whatever creative side to writing I have while balancing the more factual side. In my day-to-day writing, the reality is that I write for a site which covers recruiting. That means that my daily writing is focused, for the most part, on recruiting topics.

There is a different side to me, though, that wants to attempt to create some form or word art. I may or may not be successful in each attempt, but that side of me needs a chance to be expressed and it needs the opportunity to be seen outside of the "pay" world or writing.

I love writing for Duck Sports Authority and sharing my thoughts with our readers. That is not going to change anytime soon. Tomorrow, though, I have the opportunity to share some of my more personal thoughts on the Ducks with a different audience.

I hope that Duck fans appreciate this new direction. I hope they enjoy my opinions. Well, at the very least, I hope this gives them a perspective not expressed prior.

All will be more clear tomorrow.

Thank you everyone for your continued support.

Go Ducks!

Friday, May 9, 2014

21st Century Journalists Feed the Scourge of America

While it is very tragic that the crime of rape exists, we have to ask ourselves where our philosophical ideals lay in times like these. The problem with most of these journalists is that they do not have philosophical ideals. They blindly write what generates revenue.

I was speaking with my brother today and we talked about the deeper thoughts about crime and punishment. I have LONG held the belief that I would rather see 100 guilty men go free than to see a single innocent person in jail.

Due to the vile nature of some crimes, though, we as a society have gone the opposite direction. To avoid vile criminals going free, we allow innocent men to spend years behind bars. This is what led to Brian Banks going to prison for a rape he did not commit; and this is what has led to "journalists" focusing on the irrelevant.

You want a bigger story? Dig into why this society choose to allow false accusations to go unpunished. And then look at which race is affected most by this problem. You want to win awards? Do REAL stories, not ridiculous attempts to discredit young men who, though they acted immorally, violated no laws.

Sadly, the principles that led many of these journalists into their profession were lost a long time ago. And they just do not see it. Just a blank page in front of them and a bank account with which they are dissatisfied.

The scourge of society is that no one wants to look deep; they are afraid of what they might find. A profession which was once revolutionary in how it exposed the inequities and injustice has become nothing more than figure heads.
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