Experience What’s Left with Passionate Intensity 710.4

Recently, I attended my 50th high school reunion. I had mixed emotions trying to catch up with folks who looked like their own grandparents.

I recognized more names than faces, but after a few words I remembered events and interactions when we were all teenagers exploding with hopes and potential. Once I got past my own sense of disbelief, I rather enjoyed consorting with people who were the very landscape of my youth.

There were about 600 people in our graduating class, and I knew less than half. One classmate did an extraordinary job of tracking down the current addresses of missing classmates, and another did a huge amount of work to elicit personal biographies that revealed how each life had become a separate stream going in directions that none of us anticipated. Surely, not a single person in my class or my family would have predicted I’d end up running a nonprofit ethics institute and have a radio platform to talk about my life and thoughts.

A new phase of the aging experience started with a jolt yesterday, after I received an e-mail including a list of 71 classmates known to have passed away. The list included girls I’d kissed and friends I played basketball with and told about the girls I’d kissed. It included nice guys and bullies, smart kids and slow ones, pretty gals and plain ones – death had no preference.

This was pretty conclusive evidence that my past is dying and my generation’s expiration date is fast approaching.

I still have so much to do. I refuse to darken my future with fear or despair. I do, however, intend to experience all that is left with passionate intensity.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

Comments 5

  1. I love this article.
    Where Josephson kissed and told, I kept my mouth shut so people didn’t find out I didn’t.
    My 50th was on 9/11/10 and it was none of the rants for revenge for a previous 9/11.
    What the world needs is peace and this article gives that to me.

  2. At my 50th one of the things I learned was how little I knew about what was really happening for my peers when we were high school students. That is, as adults they could now share the traumas, despair, abuse, and other conditions that they had experienced during high school. It was temporary for most, but for some it was a continuous part of their family life.
    I’m sorry that I couldn’t have been a better friend, a better listener or confidante to help them through this adversity. We need to be do better job of helping students be there for each other in more intimate ways than just being able to use social media.

  3. Mr Josephson, you have nailed it again.
    I love your article-on passionate intensity.
    My 50th will be in 2014 and I am looking forward to it.
    My wife and I make the trek every five years to my reunion, to renew some lost friendships and get caught up on old ones, and yes, there is a lot of white hair! My class was similar to yours, I think 254 graduates. Hers was over 1500. We went to her 25th which was attended by about 3-400 people and my wife knew no-one there.-or cared to. Those were different times. We are always shocked at the list of deceased classmates and the realization comes that some day we will be one of those names. That is why we do need to live every day with the passionate intesity that you mention. I have so much to do yet in life, and it seems so little time. Where did 65 years go? My kids are what I am so proud of, they have everything ahead of them and so much future potential to make the world a better place. I, too, will not darken my future with fear or despair, because our children will not allow the world to perish. Here’s to our generation and the future generations that will prove to civilization that they care about their fellow man and will live to their fullest potential.

  4. Well reading this article I was not sure I can relate because I am 26 years old but It tought me how things will be when I go to my high school reunion but it is crazy how people you use to go to school with died and are no longer alive like you kissed then or you use to play a sport with them this teaches you man how time flies so fast you can only like to imagine the things you would like to do before death but if you go to a high school reunion I think things would have changed a lot if you did not like someone you see their in the reunion now the time is different and both of you are more mature you should talk to him or her and find out what is new and what you guys have accomplished since high school it is just a good moral thought and thinking.

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