I recently attended a reunion of my Law School graduating class. It had been 35 years since the University of Saskatchewan College of Law unleashed us on the world. Many of my classmates have done and are doing great and important things. There were judges and government officials in attendance, as well as those who have devoted themselves to public service as Crown Attorneys or Legal Aid Lawyers and of course, those who serve in the demanding career as lawyers in private practice. Our master of ceremonies called everyone to speak and update each other on our activities of the past 35 years. When it was my turn I was tongue-tied. Humble pie is not my favorite dish but in this case I gratefully accept it. I simply could not keep up with the spontaneous wit and humour of my colleagues. That is okay. However now I will use my space on the THE internet, my blog, which apparently is quite notorious (everyone who was there will know what I mean) to reflect on how the experience of meeting with old friends and acquaintances can reveal to us some great truths about the really important things in life.
The first thing that struck me was how important good friends are in getting a person through difficult times. I heard many stories of how acts of kindness and support got people through the anxiety and stress of difficult classes and 100% final exams–which were the rule rather than the exception in Law School back in the day. We did not have “therapy dogs” but we did have each other (and the “occasional” beer…or two…). For the most part none of us had a lot of money in Law School but many of us were incredibly wealthy in terms of the really important things like quality, caring relationships. It is a good thing to remember and honor those friendships.
Secondly we remembered the fun times of acting silly and laughing at the crazy( maybe even stupid) things we did. Laughter and humor is so important to keep us sane and help us to navigate the sometimes great challenges life can throw at us. We all need to laugh, especially at ourselves. We are all funny, in our own way and everyone of us says and does things that deserve a good laugh. If we cannot laugh at ourselves our stiffness will cause us to break under the pressures of life.
Thirdly, all of us have weathered storms. This is part of life that cannot be avoided despite our best effort–it is a part of the human condition. Often it is those storms that define us and make us who we are. As I looked out at my classmates I could see in each of them people who were putting into practice the first of Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. They were all standing tall with their shoulders back. They are facing life with courage despite whatever personal, career or other challenges are part of their story. If the current students at the College of Law can say as much of themselves and their classmates after 35 years they will be able to match the success of the class of ’83.
The fourth and final takeaway for me was that what was really important in all that people had accomplished, or were accomplishing, was our relationships. Our family, friendships and community connections were the things that had helped us to make it through Law School and, as most acknowledged, these were the most important things in life moving forward–even into retirement. We all search for meaning and purpose says Victor Frankl–survivor of the Nazi concentration camps. What I heard from my former classmates was, almost across the board, that purpose is found in love–whether that is love for a spouse, children, grandchildren or even in serving the broader community. I am proud and humbled to be a part of a group of individuals who see the value of sacrifice for those they love.
Thanks for the memories! May God Bless you all! (…even if you do not believe in God, I do and I cannot think of a better thing to hope for all of you than the blessings of the Almighty, all Merciful God)