I can really get drawn in anytime some media outlet presents one of their “Where are they now?” deals where they go in search of formerly famous celebrities, athletes, and iconic figures of the past. Hearing the tales of what went wrong for them and even sometimes what went right to boost them out of the limelight or maybe their own personal 15 minutes of fame is often very enlightening. I haven’t seen one of these stories in awhile, but I started thinking about them again recently when I stumbled upon an old yearbook. Yearbooks were a brilliant invention. Whoever decided it was a good idea to record, for history sake, the photos of everyone who shared those formative years of ones life should be given due honor. I don’t know their history or how far back they go. Sometimes I imagine unearthing one from prehistoric times, carved entirely on stone, Flintstone –like. I wonder if Davinci provided the yearbook for his graduating class, done entirely in oils. Is there an ancient scroll out there with the graduating names of Jesus and the apostles?
Living entirely on the opposite side of the country from my old high school, I have succeeded in losing track of everyone in my yearbook with the exception of my wife. I’ll be honest, it was never an area of major concern for me. High school wasn’t necessarily my “glory days”. They weren’t miserable either. They just were. Living in those moments, I never even really understood their value and the life long importance of recording them in a book of “glamour shots by Deb”. It’s only been recently though that I have come to understand their impact in helping to wire me into the person I’ve become and onto the path that God has drawn out for me.
It’s not just high school though. I can look back on all of the influential periods of my life and realize that they are strewn with undocumented yearbooks of relationships past. They were all, from my earliest days in McNamara Elementary, Durgee Junior High, Ray Middle School, Baker High School, the University of Buffalo, moments and relationships that, in the moment, I thought would be around forever. They’re not though. Most didn’t even make it past the 10 year mark. They have been filed like dusty, page curled yearbooks on the shelves of my memory. As I’ve taken this journey with stops all across the country, each place has become its own moment and memory. Some people never leave the place of their childhood and so I would imagine that they may have a better handle on these things. I imagine it, although it may not be so at all.
So every now and again, my memory offers up snap shots of those days and those people. When it is particularly generous, mostly in dreams hardly remembered in the morning, I’ll get a brief video clip, more like the old home movies my parents used to show up on a sheet at holiday time. I see them as they were, sometimes with great clarity, other times merely as misty figures in semi familiar situations. Now all of you “arm chair” analysts can just relax, many of my earlier days were not that flattering so it’s not an inner wish to go back in time. My wife says I’m better with time so this is where I choose to stay. I’m perfectly happy here. I just wonder sometimes about the pictures and clips that fall off the shelf from time to time. Where are they now? Or maybe more importantly, where am I? I wonder whose shelf I might be on. I wonder if I’m a memory stored somewhere. I wonder at what point I’ll stop wondering.
I’m about to reluctantly head one more time into the great abyss of higher learning. I’m sure it will signal a new chapter in my life, complete with a new cast of characters, new stories and new experiences. I’m going to try and take it slower and more fully appreciate those who God brings my way. I may even buy a yearbook.