A couple more thoughts on my college reunion from last weekend:
1) The reactions to the event on Zuck’s Surveillance Tool have been roundly gushing and reminiscent of expressions at the end of summer camp. I think it’s great if an event like this brings joy to people’s lives. I also wonder about the origins of those feelings, since I don’t share them. Of course, there’s heavy self-selecting going on with who comments, not to mention with who attended in the first place. Since I work at my alma mater, there’s also that degree of familiarity-bred contempt. Or if not contempt, at least tempered affinity.
2) One of the best parts for me was the privilege of getting reacquainted with a friend who I’d like to call a close friend, but I think that’s an aspiration on my part. This is a person who has directed their life strongly toward social justice and engaged scholarship, a direction I’d like to bend my life more, though substantially substituting “work in the academy” for “scholarship”. From my perspective we had a wonderful time, and I think I came away with some helpful ideas about social justice work and possibly a new foundation for our friendship. (It was also just fun to have a conversation with an old college friend that was primarily about now and the future and meaningful work in the world rather than about superficialities.) So here’s another way others’ feelings don’t resinate with me: I think reunions should be an opportunity to deepen our learning, to put into practice ways we’ve changed over a quarter-century, at mid-life (past it for some as-yet unknown portion of us). Reconnecting with the past versions of our selves — or trying to — should be about noticing the meaningful difference and acting on it. Maybe the lovefest is more than a performance? I’m skeptical.
3) This same wonderful person was standing in an academic building and encountered an older alumnus, who asked, in the kindly way we White men sometimes talk to needed service workers, where the bathroom was. My friend has a forgiving disposition and so replied that they didn’t know, they were just looking for a philosophy classroom where they napped as an undergrad. #ReuningWhileBrown
War’s song that’s all about answering the question in the chorus makes me happy every time it comes on for three reasons:
It’s Menorial Day 2018, and I’ve entered the second half of my life. That fact has only occurred to me just now, and like all periodicities, it’s a constructed one. Why it occurs to me is that from last Thursday to yesterday, I participated in my 25 year college reunion. Most of it made me feel great, some of it made me feel anxious, some of it was sad, and some of it was boring. More later.
The other day, as part of my job, I had a met with a psychotherapist. My people are not generally therapy people, so I feel compelled to explain why I was talking to a shrink.
And yet, I learned a lot in that meeting that’s helped me since. We were talking about a project involving teaching transferrence and counter-transferrence. These words weren’t new to me, but I didn’t understand the concepts behind them. While I’m still not sure I understand them, I have a better sense of what they mean in theory and practice, as well as of some of their constituent parts.
This helped me recently to pay attention to my affect in a situation with my child, a time when I found myself extremely frustrated with what I thought was performance below their abilities. I’m still not convinced they were doing their best, but I also paid better attention to myself at the moment, tried to consider better my child’s perspective and likely thoughts and feelings at the moment, and likely averted a bunch of unpleasantness and reinforcement of exactly their actions and mindset that I want to control. Which is possibly the bigger problem, anyway, my ridiculous expectation that I can control another human being.