Eulogy for Dad,

(Delivered at Dad’s Celebration of his Life at The Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix on Saturday August 20, 2016.)

As many of you know, I am a Physical Therapist and also a Hypnotherapist.

One of the issues I help people with is Public Speaking.

It turns out that Public Speaking is one of of the biggest fears people have, more than; spiders, snakes, heights or flying.

So bear with me, I’ve seen this before.

I hope the trance lasts.

 

This is a Eulogy

A Definition of a eulogy is:

“A speech that praises someone who has died.”

*Maybe we should take more time praising someone while they are alive!

I was chosen by my siblings to deliver this, perhaps because I’m named after my father,

who was named after his father.

Having the same name, I was Little Don to his Big Don.

So to be clear, any positive things I say, are about my father, Big Don.

 

First some biography:

He was born March 2, 1934, in Peabody, MA and raised in Salem, MA.

He was an only child.

His father was in the Army in WW II and died a year after returning from the war,

when dad was 13.

He did have some important male influences in his life, including his uncles.

His mother, as a single mom had the challenge of raising a curious, strong minded and

independent son.

The high school was a half mile away.

His mother would drive him there and by the time she got back home,

he would be there eating a bowl of cereal.

Unbeknownst to his mother, he began racing a stock car, when he was still underage.

Coincidentally, another driver was one of my mother’s brothers.

He shared his love of motor racing to following generations, bringing us to Manzanita

Speedway and other racing events.

 

Dad was a real renaissance man, from Johan Sebastian Bach to Richard Bach.

Possibly in spite of his formal education, he was very well read and knowledgeable

about: Arizona, United States and twentieth century world history, Arizona Geology,

Native American culture, especially in the South West, all things about the Sonoran

Desert, firearms, movies and classical music.

He was a master of the show Jeopardy, drawing on his broad knowledge to beat the contestants from the comfort of his recliner.

One of his interests was astronomy. Often when I see planets or identify constellations,I remember looking through the telescope with him in the back yard.

He was a voracious reader, reading Science Fiction and futurist booksespecially by Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov.

Other favorite authors from a very diverse library include; Edward Abbey, Richard Bach, Leo Buscaglia, Kahlil Gibran and C. S. Lewis.

He read poetry by; Robert Service, Edgar Allen Poe, Jack London and many others.

He became involved in photography by working in the photo finishing business that one of his uncles owned and met my mom who worked there too. Photography followed him to Phoenix where he working at the Photo Shop and opened his own photofinishing lab in our house, where we learned to mix the chemicals, develop film, make prints and work in the dark. Many of us still work in the dark.

He had a deep love of music, especially classical, but included Gene Autry to Herb Albert, Musicals and Jazz. He was able to play by ear, primarily on the organ. His musical ability has skipped my generation.

His creative expression included photography, writing essays and poetry.

He was open to new discoveries, including Mexican food which was unknown in Massachusetts at the time.

There was experimenting with dehydrated backpacking food,             digestible or not.

He liked to do some barbecuing and cooking. He is best known for his chili, beef stew and a secret recipe fried chicken.                         That recipe remains secret.

He developed a love of the Western outdoors from the mountains to the deserts.

Hiking, photographing and backpacking. He taught and led trips, working in the business later opening his own store, the Trail Head a true adventure.

He later started a tour business, sharing his knowledge of Arizona with people from all over the world taking them on a journey to the Grand Canyon, Oak Creek and desert.

He was very patriotic. Putting up the flag every day in the Flagstaff house. He had strong opinions about politics which was opportunity for intense discussion with Kathy.

So what did I, Dan, Davis and Kathy, grand kids and hopefully even great grandchildren get from this amazing man’s life, words and example.

We learned some discipline, especially Dan and I. Maybe Davis and Kathy were better or maybe our folks just got tired.

You always told the truth, you always kept your word, you were nice to animals. You respected and took care of nature.

You took the time and effort to help people and be polite, even if it was ½ an hour helping plan a backpacking trip for someone who was only going to buy a dollar topographic map.

It was alright to be physically uncomfortable while achieving a goal, whether the heat of the desert, the cold cross country skiing, bugs, fatigue on a long hike.

“The end is right around the corner” was common encouragement, even if there were many corners ahead.                                        The view was always worth it.

We learned it was alright to be scared learning something new whether learning to ride a bike or rock climbing.    I don’t remember public speaking be part of that.     Oh well.

We learned to take risks and persevere.                   Opening a business is a gamble.

There were tough times.                        Some days were a challenge.

There is the true fable of Zero the rabbit. We had an unnamed rabbit who was going to be named after the next customer that came in.

By closing time no sales,  hence Zero the Rabbit.

Even so, Dan and I have both started businesses. Some days I could have used a rabbit.

We learned the importance of being involved with your kids whether in organized groups like Boy Scouts and Hiking Club and also family things like car trips to Massachusetts every other year for several years, experiencing the wonders across America.

And exploring ghost towns, hiking, backpacking and sightseeing.

Family is important, the immediate family and also grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

We learned patience, courage and acceptance over most of the last several years. Even though Dad gradually lost the ability to do most of the daily activities and the things he enjoyed, he seldom complained while he was still himself.

One of the most important lessons we saw as children was that even though he was a true individual, he was always a partner with Mom.

We experienced their love for each other and for us.

She was always been there for us and Dad. Going on the adventures and fun times and the

darkest and most trying times.                                    Thanks Mom!

You always need a quote for one of these things. So here is one that might state a philosophy of his life. It is from one of his favorite books:

Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach

“I do not exist to impress the world. I exist to live my life in a way that will make me happy. ”

One last thing, Dad had a real sense of humor, especially loved puns and he used to yell to the grand kids, like it was something urgent, Zachary, Stephen, Alicia, Daniel come here!

Then he would have them sing;

Yes, we have no bananas,  (The four grand kids did come of front and sang their best)

Thank you.

Don “Little Don” Berlyn

Here is link to Big Don’s obituary

www.legacy.com/obituaries/azcentral/obituary.aspx?n=donald-evons-berlyn-don&pid=181093705

 

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Enneagram

 

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—View from the far side of the recliner

Enneagram

The Enneagram is a system in which everyone is considered to primarily be in one of nine different personality types. Typically there will be influences from other types. A couple of weeks ago I went to a weekend seminar on the enneagram. I had strong reservations about the concept but went anyway. I took the free online enneagram tests before going (links below) and discovered what my type was. It was a bit of a surprise because just going off the name of one of the other categories I was sure I would be that type.

The weekend focused on the enneagram types and relationships. People exhibited patterns of behavior and interacted in ways that were consistent with their enneagram type. It was interesting to meet people who identified as certain types and actually seeing and hearing the similarities.

The enneagram personality types are not meant to be limitations as in you are this type therefore you will act like this and have this set of strengths, weaknesses and problems. It is more a way to recognize what might be driving your beliefs and behaviors and using that knowledge to grow beyond your limitations. Knowledge is power.

I found some real insight into how I react and manage things by learning about my personality type. A light went off as I reflected on the way that I have worked with different people in the physical therapy practice, the roles I typically took and felt comfortable with in organizations and the settings in which I most enjoy working.

The enneagram idea seems like it could have value for people understanding themselves and I am beginning to use it at the most basic level as a starting point with some of my hypnotherapy clients.

If you are interested the link below has information about the enneagram system and two free tests take can help you determine your type. From there you can go to information about each type. Things get a bit complicated once you get past the initial personality type, but there are explanations and you may find the information about the basic type is enough to start with.

www.eclecticenergies.com/enneagram/test.php

In addition to the internet there are a number of books available. The briefest is the easy to read The Essential Enneagram by Daniels and Price.

 

More on the Senses

Last time I wrote about how information from the sense organs pretty much goes into the sensory parts of the brain unaltered if both the sense organs and the nervous system is intact. What happens after that depends on what we are paying attention to, what we expect and our past experiences. If we are totally focused watching a sporting event we may miss really strange and obvious things right behind the players or in with the spectators even though all of the visual data got to the subconscious level of the brain. An average person walking in the woods hears bird sounds and recognizes it as bird sounds. The trained bird watcher/listener hears bird sounds and hears the lesser prairie chicken.

A couple of interesting, to me anyway, sensory gender differences; females are better at discriminating odors (is that why Old Spice is still around?) and hues, while males are better at noticing things in the distance and that move fast.

Feel free to contact me with any comments, requests and of course if you know someone who might be interested in these posts please send them on.
Thanks,
Don Berlyn

Pain.

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—View from the far side of the recliner

Alright, I finally got this pain thing written. It took longer than most posts, is probably a lot heavier on information and less on the humor. At least what I consider funny.

Pain.

And then there is pain, the phenomena that led me to hypnotherapy in the first place. Pain is huge! A large part of the pharmaceutical industry is based on pain, as are all kinds of non-prescription devices, lotions, balms, powders, supports, pads, wraps, hot packs, cold packs, liquids and pills. Many, if not most of the visits to physicians, massage therapists, physical therapists and chiropractors are for pain. Pain is good for business. Pain is business. It certainly has paid a chunk of my bills since becoming a PT in 86.

You can’t trust Pain.

Generally people try to avoid pain. There are situations when some people seek physical pain to relieve psychological suffering but that is the exception. Pain is (kind of) nature’s way of saying “Don’t do that” and (naturally) “this going to hurt you worse than it is going to hurt me”. Nature can be kind of a jerk sometimes. It turns out that pain can be worse than the engine light on a dashboard for giving an accurate warning of when something is seriously wrong.  Stubbing a toe, stepping on a nail, hitting your thumb instead of a nail, hangnails, cold sores, dental work, touching something hot, and first degree burns, all of that can really hurt a lot and yet doesn’t cause serious tissue damage and won’t kill you. There are many things that don’t cause pain, especially in the early stages that are life threatening. Cancer, aneurisms, parasites, high blood pressure and infections often begin unannounced and continue to develop silently until it is too late or at least much harder to treat.  Where is pain when you need it?

The way senses work.

For what are usually considered senses, touch, hearing, smell, taste and vision, if the sense organs themselves and the wiring is intact, the stimulus pretty much comes through without a lot of interpretation. The stimuli come from specific sources; light and sound waves, tasty and smelly molecules, heat, cold and pressure. Once the stimulus is received then all kinds of associations can happen. When I smell musty dampness I have a happy association with my grandparents’ basements and diesel fumes I associate with great car trips. When someone else smells musty dampness or diesel fumes there are likely to be very different associations. Basically it seems that no matter what you are thinking or feeling prior to the stimulus, orange is orange both the color and the taste, the same type of coffee smells the same. Whether you focus on the stimulus or not, it pretty much gets through unaltered. The same stimulus tends to be perceived as being the same at different times and by different people. The color orange is the same today and tomorrow and to you and me.

Pain is different.

Pain is processed through a number of places in the brain and there are different types of pain, acute vs. chronic, pulsing, burning, crushing, tingling, hot, cold, numbing, pinching, sharp and dull. Believe me there is a very long list. Pain can be very localized, over a larger area or seem to be in the entire body. Unlike the specific stimuli for the “regular” senses, pain is much more varied. Pain is a phenomena in which the same stimulus is experienced differently at different times and by different people. The amount of other stimuli you are receiving at the same time can affect the amount of or even if pain is perceived. Sitting in a chair totally absorbed in the sights and sounds of great movie while eating popcorn is a totally different pain experience than sitting in the same chair without any other stimulation. What you are thinking and the mood you are in have a huge effect on pain perception.

The Shot.

Not your happy place.

Think about a child that going to get a shot. You may have been through this one yourself. If the kid’s parents are stressed and keep saying “be brave, this isn’t going to HURT”, the kid is thinking “why do I have to be brave if it isn’t going to HURT?”Big brothers can always make things worse by saying “I bet you’re going to cry, I had a shot and it made my arm black and blue and the needle was this BIG!”. The kid has to sit there in a drab room for a very, very long time (for a young kid just sitting still for five minutes is torture). Nobody is talking about happy things, or singing songs, playing with or reading to the child sitting. The adult/s may even be checking or talking on their cell phones. Someone might suddenly remember about the time that Uncle Bob passed out when he saw the needle. The nurse comes in couldn’t care less, barely says anything other than “sit still”. Poor kid. That shot is really going to hurt.

A better place.

Now imagine the same kid in a room with interesting decorations, maybe music or even kid friendly videos, parents and siblings talking about pleasant things, maybe enjoyable activities that are going to happen after the visit to the doctor. During the wait the child is encouraged to move around maybe playing with a toy. Someone might let the child play on a cell phone. When the nurse arrives he/she talks to the child in a nice unhurried way. When it is time for the poke someone distracts the child in a direction away from the nurse perhaps with a picture and/or story about when the kid was feeling especially good and strong. Wow! Done already? Let’s go do ____ (whatever is the next happy thing on the list).

Same shot but a totally different experience. Child birth, surgeries, dentist appointments and chemo/radiation therapy can be experienced in very different ways.

It’s all in the Mind.

Much of pain is fear, fear that you won’t be able to deal with the pain, expectations that a procedure will be painful, perhaps based on exaggerated stories, TV, movies or even an imagination gone wild. Contrary to the old saying “ignorance is bliss”, ignorance can actually be fear which leads to increased pain. Sometimes ignorance is just ignorance, but I don’t know. Just knowing that you can have control over pain gives you some control over pain. Watching a video of a woman calmly delivering a baby using hypnosis can both negate unrealistic fear and set up the expectation that it is possible to have a baby in a natural and relatively relaxed manner. There are many techniques that can help deal with pain. In addition to education I often use breathing techniques, visualization and hypnosis to give my clients the tools they need to control or eliminate pain.

Etcetera.

In a hypnotic trance a person can eat an onion thinking that it is an apple, feel one arm become weightless while the other becomes so heavy it can’t be lifted, that the room becomes very hot or cold, hear or smell things that aren’t there or can’t see. Pretty impressive. The mind’s grasp on the senses can be tricked and that can be both entertaining and a good demonstration of the reality of the effect of hypnosis. But as far as making a real improvement in someone’s life tricks don’t count for much. The real deal, the thing that gets me so excited about hypnotherapy and the other techniques is the power they give people to achieve their goals, overcome stress and anxiety. The thing that started the whole thing for me was working with people in chronic pain. I’ve used the techniques on myself (as blathered about in previous posts) and many patients/clients. It’s all in the mind and it’s real.

Next time someone says “It’s a pain”, you can say “yeah but it doesn’t have to be”.

Next post will probably be about something interesting called Enneagram.

Feel free to contact me with any comments, requests and of course if you know someone who might be interested in these posts please send them on.
Thanks,
Don Berlyn

The Tangent Edition

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—View from the far side of the recliner

I usually take a wandering path, thinking, talking, writing and trying to get my pants on. This time the beginning of November, in an even number year, brings up all kinds of things.

No Shave November.

It turns out that no shave November is a real thing. Check it out at http://www.no-shave.org Basically you stop shaving for November to raise awareness for cancer. There is some connection to making a donation to the cause. I like the idea of doing something by not doing something. I stopped shaving my back years ago, it doesn’t seem to make a difference. Alright there has never been anything to shave on my back and barely anything on my chest. I can grow a beard and have been told I look like a short version of the uni-bomber, when in full gray fuzziness. So the beard returns after over a year’s hiatus.

Today is Election Day.

I’m pretty involved in politics although there is a lot I don’t like about either of the two major parties. For about ten years I’ve been the American Physical Therapy Association District Liaison for the congressional district in which I live. Just about every year I go to Washington DC with other PTs from around the country to meet with our legislators about health care issues. We also meet with our legislators in the districts. In that time I’ve met quite a few Representatives and one Senator. There has been a number of very positive interactions with both Republicans and Democrats. I’ve also met with state legislators and candidates which has been a mixed bag. Locally, there have been conversations with a mayor and a few council members all of which have been positive. I have been very involved in the last four campaigns of a candidate which has been rewarding, interesting and the feelings that come with both winning and losing. It’s going to be close so I’m not sure which emotion/s I’ll be experiencing tonight at the election party.

Obamacare.

Taking a position on Obamacare (ACA) is a guaranteed way to make enemies. Here is my attempt at a realistic view of the situation as it currently exists. I hope that anyone who likes me will continue to do so.

As a Physical Therapist who sees the struggles of people without insurance and as a person who has been unable to get regular health insurance because of a preexisting condition I can appreciate the need for change in the health care system. As the parent of a son in college, I see the benefit of being able to keep him on the family insurance until age 26.  In my late teens and much of my twenties I had no health insurance. It didn’t seem like a big deal at the time but since having a bunch of health related life experiences with family and me I see the big deal.

As a Physical Therapist who has had to deal with the increased expense and needless paperwork brought on by Obamacare, I know the program has been poorly implemented by a dysfunctional bureaucracy.  As a person who tried to get through healthcare.gov to sign up I have experienced the train wreck of incompetence of this administration. As someone who eventually got through healthcare.gov, I know that the “Affordable Care Act” is not affordable.

The reality is that no matter who wins the election today, Obamacare is not going to be repealed for at least the next two years, if ever. Shutting down the federal government did not achieve anything positive for anyone. Healthcare is too important to individuals, healthcare providers and is such a large part of the economy that the ACA needs to be fixed. If “politics is the art of the possible”, then once the dust of this election settles the members of Congress need to do what can be done to make things better for the citizens of this country in a bipartisan way. Feel free to contact your legislators, they are supposed to represent you and your voice can make a difference on the issues you care about.

Veterans.

Next Tuesday, 11/11 is Veteran’s Day. No matter how one feels about the various wars and armed engagements that our military has been ordered into, the veterans who served deserve our appreciation. We can show our appreciation in many ways; paying attention to veteran’s issues and letting Congress know that you want the veterans taken care of, volunteering to support veterans, contact a veterans group to see what you can do. In that light I have been offering free sessions for veterans to help with PTSD or related issues for a while now but haven’t done much to publicize it. So if you know anyone might benefit from some help have them contact me or contact me yourself to discuss what I can offer. On Friday I should have this service for veterans posted on the website.

Tom Magliozzi.

I learned yesterday that Tom Magliozzi, the elder brother of the Car Talk duo, died from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. Listening to that NPR show on Saturdays always made me laugh, even the “classic” segments which had me laughing even before they did. Today I heard a clip in which Tom completely lost it, totally unable to continue to speak without breaking into uncontrolled laughter. I laughed until I cried, then just kind of cried, a bit. All better now. The world can always use more clean humor and those guys were two of the best.

Enough already.  So vote, volunteer, be grateful and laugh.

Thanks for bearing with me. No more politics for two more years.

Feel free to contact me with any comments and of course if you know someone who might be interested in these posts please send them on.
Thanks,
Don Berlyn

Link

First Session: What happens behind the closed door?

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—View from the far side of the recliner

Typically we have already had an extensive conversation about why they are calling me. These conversations are usually on the phone but sometimes a person would like to meet in person, in that case we meet in my office or my favorite coffee shop. In either case the initial consultation is free. Almost always the issue is something that is appropriate for my services. I then explain broadly what techniques might be employed.
At the beginning of the initial session the client fills out a simple and pretty brief intake form. In addition to basic personal information; name, phone numbers, email and mailing addresses, age, medical condition/s, relevant medications, counseling and hypnotherapy experience/s and referral source. The second page is information on the current issue/s, which is only half a page. The bottom of that page is agreements, the most important of which is to be an active participant in the process as a co-therapist. The last page is a list of the only conditions that any information from our sessions will be released other than to the client. In seven plus years I have never had to release any information on anyone. I always tell the client that my notes are both minimal and illegible. This maybe a comfort or not but it is definitely true.
Next the client’s issues, goals and relevant history are discussed in depth. During this conversation the client often makes discoveries, has insights and uncovers long lost memories. Depending on the issue/s most of the therapy happens before I do anything other than listen intently and ask key questions.
Part three is a discussion of the techniques of that I use only about half of which is formal hypnosis, the rest is breathing, visualization, NLP and various other techniques. NLP is Neuro Linguistic Programming which is not as scary as it sounds. Hypnosis is explained in terms of what it is and isn’t.
Part four is development of suggestions using the client’s goals and language. This is a very collaborative process in which I typically write out some suggestions, then run the content past the client until the suggestions align with the client’s goals then we fine tune the language to the point that it sounds like the client talking to themselves.
Part four is the instruction and practice of techniques then a transition into hypnotic trance. An emphasis of this stage is that the client is able to use all of the techniques, including an abbreviated version of hypnosis with suggestions independently.
Part six is a review of the session including the trance and techniques for independent use. Recommendations are made questions are answered, the client is asked to contact me at any time for support or with questions and to schedule. Scheduling, unless it is a medical, pain or pressing issue future sessions are scheduled at least a week later to give the patient time to practice the techniques and to observe any changes in their issues.
Almost always there is a fair amount of laughter, which is therapeutic, sometimes tears, usually the client more than me, which is therapeutic too.
I schedule the first session for two hours, subsequent ones for an hour to make sure there is no time pressure. Rarely sessions go past the scheduled time which works out alright usually because I try to leave time between appointments.
The charges are per session not time. Taking time and money considerations off the table makes things more relaxed for everyone. Besides turning to watch the meter hurts my neck.
I’m still working on the pain post, want to make sure that the wording is just right. I’ve had two radio info ads on two local stations and it’s time to write a couple of new ones. It is so strange to hear your recorded voice. I continue to work on the certification for the Blissborn hypnosis program for the birth process to replace the program I was using. I will begin with a real pregnant who will be even more really pregnant in about a month.

Feel free to contact me with any comments and of course if you know someone who might be interested in these posts please send them on.
Thanks,
Don Berlyn

Performance Hypnotherapy

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—View from the far side of the recliner

Performance Hypnotherapy

Last night I worked with a young athlete that I had seen two years ago. The first thing that struck me was that he is much taller. The second was how successful he has been in his sport. He has been using many of the techniques from the earlier sessions. Now he wanted to work with some very specific issues to improve his performance even more. Have I ever mentioned that I love what I do?

This got me thinking about some of the performance related subjects that I’ve been privileged to address with my clients. I’ve learned a lot from my clients.

The List (to the extent that I remember and alphabetize)

Ballet

Baseball

Basketball

Belly Dancing

Calf Roping (Rodeo event)

Classical Violin

Distance Running/Racing

Dirt Bike Racing

Fencing (Olympic sport, like dueling with swords)

Golf

Interviewing (as the interviewee)

Making Sales Calls

Meeting New People

Mountain Bike racing

Public Speaking (many settings)

Rock Singing and Guitar Playing

Test Taking

Volleyball

I’ve been a distance runner, ride a mountain bike, have “played” golf and volleyball, have listened to music, avoided ropes and calves, dancing and swords. Especially dancing with swords, isn’t that like running with scissors. The athletes, dancers and musicians have all the knowledge they need or at least a lot more than I know. All they need (or get) from me is to learn how to use their minds to be an asset and not an obstacle to performance and having fun.

For test taking, public speaking, interviewing, meeting people and making sales calls there are definitely specific strategies and techniques that I can offer in addition to hypnosis, visualization and other mind stuff.

When it comes to ballet, I can get into many of the foot/feet positions easily because my hips are extremely turned out due to no talent on my part. My heels seem to like hanging out together while my toes don’t like to see each other. I also walk on my toes, maybe to keep my heels clean or to be a bit less short. One time for Halloween, I wore a leotard and a tutu. Bad idea but I did learn a few things which I’ll save for another post. I have a niece who is a really (accomplished/good/advanced/some positive French word) ballerina. She does practice about/at least four hours a day which seems every bit as necessary as talent. To be clear, I have never worked with her as a hypnotherapist.

Enough already!

I really will write about pain. I can feel it coming. Maybe next week.

Feel free to contact me with any comments and of course if you know someone who might be interested in these posts please send them on.
Thanks,
Don Berlyn

40th Reunion

View from the far side of the recliner

Looks like it is going to be the reunion. Need to write this while I can still remember.

First thing. There were a number of people who worked long and hard to make the reunion happen, even putting their own money down to secure the event before anyone else paid anything. So if you are reading this, Thanks you did a great job.

Before the Big Event

I had to get cleaned up, got my hair cut, took care of the nose and ear hair myself. Didn’t have that in high school. Straining to look in the mirror made me think, maybe our eyesight gets worse as we age so we can’t see the wrinkles.

Looking Back

This reunion got me thinking about things I hadn’t thought about in years. For the people that I only knew for the four years of high school, forty years is like ten high school experiences since we’ve seen each other. I remember a few classes that seemed like forty years. I don’t know how many students graduated with me but I did meet a really nice girl next to me whose last name began with “B” also. In four years of school we had never met. It was not a one room school house. A flashback to freshman year. The school was so crowded that we were on double sessions. Six AM first class for me for two years. Freshman had to share lockers. I shared with a guy I knew in middle school. Mark S. was precocious when it came to illegal substances. That’s not why we were friends. One time I had pain and muscle relaxant pills in the locker that I had for a sports injury. I didn’t like taking them but noticed one day that they weren’t in the locker. I asked Mark if he knew where they were. He said that he sold them because I wasn’t using them. I don’t know what else Mark was selling out of our locker. Looking back, that could have turned out really bad.

I did go to one other reunion, I think the 10th. A few things struck me from that weekend. Some people hadn’t changed much. There was this one guy who was really nice, jovial even and kind of big around the middle. He had gotten even bigger around the middle and had married a woman who was just as round, just as nice and even jovial! A good friend of mine hit it off with his ex-wife, ending up in her hotel room. They were both in relationships, she was married. This caused trouble in two states.  A woman showed up alone on the dressed up night in an amazing dress. I don’t even remember if she was wearing shoes, or had feet. She was stunning! Nobody, male or female seemed to know who she was. Several yearbooks were quickly scanned with no hits. Maybe she was from a different high school and just came over to mess with us. Or maybe got lost looking for model tryouts. There was a list of our classmates that had died. There weren’t many. There was probably more that had been in prison and one or two in both groups.

Back to the future, thirty years later

Getting ready

I almost felt retro acne coming on. Time to put the nice shirt on. Suck in the belly and stand up tall (tall for me that is). I kind of hope they play “Stairway to Heaven”. Guess I’ll find out what effect 40 years and gravity have on people. Forty years probably doesn’t seem like much to a Giant Tortoise. Then again they are born wrinkled and toothless and never bother to change.

Being There

There weren’t any people that I had been close to or even knew really well of the fifty or so folks. It seemed that a lot of the people were connected through the school band. They seemed to be a close group back in high school and apparently had good memories of those days. The jocks (of which I was a very minor player) with the concussions probably didn’t have good memories of anything. Nor did the stoners. I did met some very nice people. I might actually check in on Facebook with a couple of them. It is a small world (not the Disney song please!). One of my classmates dragged her cousin who is four years younger and went to another high school on the other side of Phoenix to the reunion. I don’t think she knew anyone else. We ended up sitting next to each other during the festivities. (It was murder mystery dinner theatre which is way too difficult for me to explain, not having been in any school plays.) We ended up talking a lot and it turns out that we both live in Flagstaff. She is a nurse at the hospital and I’m a PT (hypnotherapist too) we know of a lot of people in common. Interesting connection, a classmate that I don’t remember ever meeting bringing her cousin to a reunion with a lot strangers to meet someone who lives in the same town.

One last thing. On my way out I looked at the list of classmates that had died. There were so many names spread out over four decades, it seemed like it happened all at once. There was a moment of shock and sadness, remembering many of the people as teenagers which they were the last time I saw them. I did know more people on the list better in high school than I knew the people in the room. Some did die young, but we are in our late fifties so inevitably death gets more frequent. I would have liked to see some of them to see how they turned out instead of seeing their names listed like a graduation program, in alphabetical order but now with their final graduation date next to the name.

Next week I’ll write about something. I’m not sure what yet but it will be something.

Feel free to contact me with any comments and of course if you know someone who might be interested in these posts please send them on.
Thanks,
Don Berlyn