I’m having a strange time of it of recent…something to do with catching up with my past…and with my idea of myself.
Firstly, after a gap of 24 years, I’m in the process of catching up with the fellows that I played a lot of football with at the Bank of Ireland. I left to go to England in 1993 and lost contact with most of them from that point on. And, following a number of interesting events, a big bunch of us have gotten together and we are meeting up for the third time next week. Another reunion of sorts is planned for the end of September. I was involved with a number of others in setting up a golf society in 1996. I managed to get disconnected from the society a few years back but a number of this have gotten together and will catch up, along with our various wives and partners, in the near future.
But my breath was truly taken away today when I was invited to connect with a group of ex-classmates from my secondary school in Dublin. I left out the door from that place of education in 1980 and I can count on one hand the number of people that I have stayed in touch with since. I will likely meet up with some of them for a drink in the very near future.
How can I explain this? At one level, it’s about the fact that networking technologies such as WhatsApp are available which make this sort of catching-up much easier to do. Maybe there is a curiosity factor here as one looks to see how people have gotten on in life.
But my explanation for the phenomenon is to do with the male trajectory. I speculate that, unlike women who maybe experience life in cycles, us men see life as being a trajectory, ideally a steadily rising one. But I think that the experience of life teaches us that, eventually, that this paradigm doesn’t fit the facts as we start to run into the brick walls of ill-health, disappointments, failures, relationship problems and so on. And maybe we also get in touch with the idea that what happens to us might also be happening to others. And maybe this means that we might be able to conduct a conversation based on common humanity rather than the competitive narrative that we drew from in times past.
I’m looking forward to all of these meetings. I’m hopeful for some bonhomie and a few laughs and an appreciation of the times, good and bad, experienced together.