Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Reflections on Reunions (Part 1)

Originally posted on October 23, 2013

A week ago I attended my wife’s 50th high-school reunion; before that, in April, my 50th medical school reunion; before that a family-get-together around a rite of passage of a cousin-twice-removed. So it has had me thinking: What is the deep attraction of reunions? I sensed that it was important, but it also was a ritual that in some ways served the psyche below the surface of rationalizations.

My tentative hypothesis: The reunion re-ignites and old identity and helps us to feel it again. Part is seeing old friends—I would not dismiss that. What ever happened to that old gang of mine? This was a well-known popular song by George & Ira Gershwin in the 1923. But another angle is the way we are identified with that gang, and a reunion reignites that identity, more or less. This depends on many factors, such as the vibrancy of the event, the program; and the sense of being recognized by others, versus being more anonymous. They feed that need to belong and also, I suspect, reunions validate the sense of one’s past, a link, a root!

It’s easy in the mind for our sense of self to become diluted, to grow faint. A reunion reminds us that, yes, I did this, I really lived! It’s only partly that we forget—but of course we do, lots, that meal two or three days ago, but more that life accumulates and there is so much more that is remembered faintly, jostling to be recalled.

Another song that has a poignant edge for this is from the Fantastiks musical play, Try to Remember: “Deep in December it’s nice to remember, and follow…” (Indeed, all of the lyrics speak to this phenomenon.) So a reunion brings back memories and we once again are there, are young, feel some of that spirit of the shared experience—even a fragment.

In another sense, this dynamic reinforces the sense of self from the angle of our past. We seek such reinforcements. Other angles speak to other rituals—our links with our neighborhood, our club, our country, our religion. We re-ignite various links and thereby feel more whole.
It’s fascinating how little brings it all back, and how much we crave to re-experience that time. Another song: Those Were the Days.

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