Saturday, March 25, 2006

20 years on the burner and counting...

I joined the Yahoo Group of my graduating high school class.
I had a large class, over several hundred people. The school required testing prior to admission, and provided a very different milieu from what I ascertain is the norm for high schools in America. Imagine a school full of nerds, in a large, urban setting.

It’s been twenty years since graduation, and I’m only now plugging back into this scene, via the exchanges on the board. I stayed close to only one person during the intervening years, and even that’s cooled with time, and distance, and real life.

I expected people to change. I have. But now I realize it’s not really so much change, as it is distillation. A good sauce starts out with a fair amount of liquid along with the seasoning. As you cook, you reduce, and so it seems with life. We all carried around these elements, seasons, ingredients. Now, we see what has emerged through the reduction process.

We’ve all had the same time on the burner, 20 years. But our relative heating temperatures were different. Maybe even our pans. Then there’s the chef of life: did he leave the pan unattended for a few too many years resulting in a burn? Or did he start out the heat too high, scorching the sauce beyond saving? Perhaps he/she was attentive, and the result is a subtle, yet pleasing blend, with a flavor rich and lasting? Should I chuck in the part about fine wine and vinegar? No, I think you get the point.

So I had these expectations, I didn’t even know I had: maybe that people just kept going the way they were going back in hs, maybe that they were just older versions of an early model. I don’t know why I believed that, since I’m living proof that you can jump the track. But seeing the interaction, and internalizing some of it, I’m realizing I didn’t so much jump a track, as I did cook away certain components, and allow other components of me to come to the fore.

What’s the tie back to story? (You know its coming, it always does)
I always wondered about people who can write familial sagas, because it’s this incredible exercise that involves a cast of characters going through (to get clinical) developmental stages over a statistically significant span of time. How do they get ‘story’ as opposed to ‘documentary’. Old McKee has this theory that story occurs in the gap between action and expected result; between anticipated and actual. Seeing live action familial saga via the HS Yahoo group, I realize that story for me has happened; I had an expectation, but the between this anticipated and actual result is an abyss of varying width and depth.

I read a recent post that brought it home. Someone I expected to be one way because of who they were, was actually another way, because it was who they’d become. (I'm sure there's some existential zeit geist involved.)

Perspective. That’s it. All these damn words to drill down to one: Perspective.

Too bad I have to miss the reunion: the job as corporate stooge requires my time during this event. Then again, if reading disembodied posts on a board can blow my mind this much, perhaps I need to build my strenght before taking reality on face to face.

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