Roots

+yearbook photoAt a large party, we walk around looking for people we know to talk to. We scan the guest’s faces wondering, “Do I know you?” At a high school reunion of a certain vintage, a different process is in play. There, we take a hard look at each other’s name tags first, then look at the person’s face, while asking, “Did I know you?”

By no means did I know everyone in my high school class, even back in the day. Now, having lived in Boston for over thirty years, and in only occasional contact with a handful of people since graduation, I know even fewer. So, when the invitation came for my reunion, I debated about going at all. Will I know anybody? Will we have anything in common? Will this be meaningful to me? After careful thought, I decided to face down my questions and take on a “blast from my past.”

I’m glad I did.

I may well be the only person in my rather conservative, not-very-New-Age-y class to view a high school reunion through an energetic lens, but I knew this event had the potential to be a significant root chakra experience for me. The root chakra, as the name says, is about our roots: our family of origin, the home town community in which we grew up, our cultural orientation. Root chakra experiences include visiting with relatives, going to our old neighborhood, reminiscing with our peers. These experiences help us stay grounded and connected to who we were and thus who we are.

The people we grew up with energetically affect our root chakra and can be described as our “tribe.” High school classmates were part of our early tribe, as were our parents, siblings, and teachers. Tribal relationships overlap in a network that crisscrosses from many directions. A. fellow classmate’s mother had been my fifth grade teacher. Another’s brother had been in the marching band with my sister. A teacher’s wife became my friend after graduation. Re-meeting these people, many of whom hadn’t been in the forefront of my mind for years, sparked my memories from high school and enriched my sense of my tribal roots.

The questions that had come up as I debated whether to go to the reunion were, as they say, asked and answered – resoundingly. Wondering if I would know anybody, I was also asking, if anybody would know/remember me. Yes to both! I did know and recognize people – even without having to stare at their name tags. And, yes, people recognized me. “We were student librarians together” someone reminded me. One man sweetly recalled me as his “first kiss.” Many remembered me as the girl who played the piano. It was a validating experience of seeing others and being seen by them.

I’d also wondered, “Will we have anything in common?” The life experiences of marriage, partners, divorce, children, aging or deceased parents and career work provided plenty of commonalities and transcended the old cliques that had divided us in high school. Realizing that my fellow schoolmates had gone on to manifest full lives for themselves confirmed that things turn out pretty well, that we were all just people living our lives.

After hearing each person’s life “vital statistics,” I wanted to get deeper and hear who this person had become. Given the number of people and the noise level in the room, I could only begin to explore that with a few people, so email addresses were exchanged with promises to carry on the conversations. Old friendships were renewed and new ones forged.

All of which contributed to creating the quality of meaning I’d sought in my deliberations about attending. There were some meaningful, heart-opening moments. Classmates commiserated about having stayed in Ohio or having left it. We shared the pain of our parent’s decline, the enjoyment of the children and grandchildren who filled our lives. We cared as we witnessed each other’s past and present.

And it turned out that some elements from the past are also part of the future. My grade-school friend Carol told me about a dream she has to someday buy a Mustang convertible like the one our friend Barb’s mother drove when we were kids. Carol plans to put Barb’s mother’s name, Maxine, on the license plate to honor the memory she has of this warm and vivacious mom from our neighborhood. Maxine’s spirit was a part of Carol’s past, but also of her future; a significant elder in Carol’s tribe who lives on in her heart.

The root chakra is the lowest chakra in our energy field, thereby creating our energetic foundation. Keeping that foundation strong supports and grounds us in all we do. I returned to Boston with my root chakra fully charged with memories I probably wouldn’t have retrieved without the promptings of my old classmates and by being back in my home town. The experience fortified me.

Many from our class who received the reunion invitation may have asked themselves questions, as I did, and debated the worth of attending. Some decided not to come. I understand, but think they missed something special – a rare opportunity to shore up their root chakra and to integrate their past, present, and future.

My old friend Barb didn’t make it to the reunion. She didn’t get to hear Carol tell the story about her mother, Maxine, and the someday purchase of a convertible Mustang in her mother’s honor.

I’m glad I did.

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