Posted by: 1of10boyz | May 7, 2012

A new view on Collecting


One of the most challenging and yet rewarding parts of the reunion for me has been the finding of classmates that are missing from the contact lists that have been kept over the years. I don’t know how people did or didn’t get on the list that I got. I started with the information that I could collect from the previous version of a reunion book and built from there.

I felt it was important to include anyone and everyone that went to school with the Class of 1982. My memory is bad and I personally see people on the street that I went to school with and I don’t remember or care whether they were in the auditorium with a cap and gown. In this spirit of inclusion I set out to get a complete list of who are my classmates in the Class of 1982 and figured that there was no better place to start than with our yearbooks. I had shipped my yearbooks to China with my household goods because I guessed that there was no better way to share what America is like than a High School Yearbook. Come to find out that China doesn’t do anything similar so our Chinese friends here think they are quite neat and laugh at how young we look. Sometimes we even forget that we are not the “old” people we are, but that feeling wears off much sooner now than it has in the past.

After some interesting approaches and methods a list was created. The compiled list is pretty inclusive, if not too inclusive, we found a few SNAFUs from inclusions by the yearbook committees from way back when and have weaned out the ones that never belonged. We have updated the list and I call it my Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda List, it contains roughly 155 people that could have, should have, or would have graduated with me in 1982. I have used a little bit of luck and some skill in putting together a pretty good address list to go along with the names. We still have a few that we know nothing about, but I am amazed how many we have found. Collectively my classmates knew many that I did not and we knew others that knew many we didn’t. The remaining list is our MIAs and just like our military friends we will keep looking until we have found them all.

I think that I might have missed a greater calling in life when it comes to finding people. I seem to have a knack of being able to use the various electronic mediums available to find people. A good friend that I worked with for a couple of years had me find a couple of friends for him that he had gone through Air Force boot camp with during the Vietnam period; these guys hadn’t seen each other since 1967 or so when they left their training programs for the various assignments of Vietnam. But, like all of us that have been through those kinds of experiences we shared something that bonded us together. Long story, short – I was able to locate these friends and put them back in touch with each other. My friend was so thankful to have the opportunity to visit with these men, they marveled at the fact that they all survived that terrible period of their lives, they were grateful for their luck because they had known and seen death. These experiences and my own personal desire to finding my own friends became a priority for this reunion. I would find these classmates.

Now I know that there are people that make a living by finding things and people. I think that most of us think of the Private Investigator and our minds go either to the stereotypical Magnum PI or to the sleazy guy that you hire to see if your significant other is cheating on you. I am sure that very few PIs are anything like either one of the stereotypes (cue the Peter Gun theme song right). I imagine that most of them are just regular guys and gals that enjoy being methodical and thorough. Most probably enjoy the solitude that comes from being focused on a problem and trying to figure out how to solve it. I also believe that they like the satisfaction of finding what they are looking for. I know that I enjoy the satisfaction of finding a classmate that would have been considered one of our MIAs.

When I started the Facebook thing and to a degree the other social mediums that I participate in, I have wanted to connect with the people that I know, so the reunion is just an extension of something that I already do. However, unlike many of the people I know I have been pretty “religious” about creating the groups and relationship categories that help me remember who they are and why I know them. When I explained this to one of my friends, she accused of being a “collector”, like it was something bad or derogatory. She implied by the accusation that I wanted these friendships via the social media as a bad thing, not as part of the relationship of what it meant and means to me. I was stung by the accusation, but soon realized that it was indeed what I was doing. I am a collector. The AA would tell us that this is the first step to recovery. I collect and I am not sure why. I know that there is a reason but it is more than just to collect, it has meaning and purpose to me. I have struggled for several years to understand and explain why I collect. Until today I haven’t been able to describe why I collect or what the collections mean.  I had several meaningful experiences today that combined to give me that epiphany of understanding.

One of the blogs that I follow (http://mostlybrightideas.wordpress.com) had an informative article about keeping in touch and the meaning of communications. It describes the author’s feelings about how and what communication actually means. I quote from his blog: “According to an obscure man named Georg Simmel, we develop self-esteem and a sense of place by seeking “the awareness of others.” In this scheme, we actually depend on social interaction. Furthermore, the greater the numbers involved (the more interaction we experience), the greater our own “freedom and flexibility.” Our very personalities, then, require the recognition and acknowledgment of others. So maybe it’s more helpful than I realized for me to learn about your party plates, or to tell you about my afternoon nap. More than just where we are and where we’re going, they say something about who we are — to ourselves and to each other.” So my collections and categories of friends help define me not so much by you but by what we have shared and what we have done together. I understand me because of you. I am more complete because of the “collection” of my friends from High School, my friends from the various jobs that I have had, my friend from the colleges I have attended, the friends from my LDS mission, and my family.

I know that what I am today is because of the interactions with my many friends. Some are close friends and we have shared much, some are family and we have shared more, many would be mere acquaintances where our interactions are very limited. Yet each of my friends is a vital part of what makes me who I am. I will be better and more complete because of our interactions together. I hope that you will be better and more complete because me. I appreciate our friendships a little more today because I learned that one of those friends died. He was younger than me, he still had much to live, to give, and to share. His family was younger than mine, my family is nearly grown to adulthood, his has not. I feel old today.

My friend knew he was dying, he took advantage of that knowledge and made the most of the opportunity to enjoy the last few months that he had. I am glad that I was able to talk with him and visit with him through the social mediums that we shared. We lived too far away to visit otherwise, but I was able to tell him that I was a better man for having known him, that I appreciated the interactions that we had together. In the great scheme of experiences I have had we shared only a short period of time together, yet I will miss him.

I hope that I have the opportunity to do as he did, making my peace with my family and the friends that I have, telling them what their friendships have meant to me, sharing with them the things that have made me laugh, and the things that made me cry. I hope to be able to tell them that I am not afraid to go into that great unknown for I have a knowledge and faith about it that gives me great hope and joy. This thing called death is just another step on a long path of progression and growth that we are all on. I hope to face it, as he did, with my head held high, with no regrets, and with a sure belief and knowledge of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Goodbye my friend, I will see you again. I look forward to again shaking your hand as my friend, my shipmate, and as my brother in Christ.

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