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.

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