Some hardly random notes about the 40th reunion of The Hawken School class of 1972. The frame to keep in mind is that I’ve been privileged to attend every five year reunion, and the reunions obviously commenced in 1977.
I ran cross country as a junior and senior. The 1972 team lost their first meet and then won twelve in a row to finish 12-1. My fraternal twin brother Tim, deceased in 1993, competed with a handful of strong willed young men to lead this team, the most successful team in 1972. The stress here has to be on willful competition between a few men because the guys in the team’s leading group all wanted to win the race at hand. There was nothing tactical about this approach. Every race seemed mythic in its consequence.
My own role was aptly noted in the yearbook: “Stephen Calhoun ran well until he got smart and broke his ankle.” This past weekend every one of this senior five strong cross country group, aside from my late brother, was at the reunion: Getanah, Jay, Steve, and Elliot.
Jay Morrison, Jamie Cohen, Tim Calhoun – taken in Spring of 1971, track season
For three straight years Mr. Carter awarded me a D in Spanish. This doomed my grade point average. The funny thing is that he gave me a D despite the fact that I never learned a lick of Spanish. I didn’t enjoy school very much, but I really liked to read. I did my homework and was gregarious in class. Yet, my terrible positioning at the end of my formal educational career not only was entirely my own fault, it also has made it impossible to rate my Hawken experience highly. This has zero to do with the school itself, and everything to do with my own deficits and failure at the time to look forward more than, say, a day or two.
This would be different than the many many classmates who smartly leveraged the opportunity in high school. My class is awesomely, in the main, and decades down the track, accomplished. However, other than the moments in which guys lauded the school, (and by implication I was reminded at those moments how the school amplified a purposeful approach,) most of the reunion was taken up by catching up and clueing in to the state of our stories, rather than to the state of our stature.
For this kind of goal I am, ironically, well prepared and purposeful.
This process (of reuniting) is much about grasping the different ways each of us has come to grips with our own adult life. I am tempted, in recognizing how this remains a striking feature of our coming together, to coin a term, reunitive. Somehow, we seem to do this ritual re-bonding easily and so I reckon we are, as a group, evidently reunitive.
Jay Morrison, (picture provided by Getty Ambau.) Jay and Getty, were two fellow cross-country runners; although anytime we ran together–forty years ago–what I saw of them was their speeding off into the distance ahead of me.
We aren’t that old –
Yet, we haven’t all survived –
Our middle late middle age wanes –
It is time to be old,
To take in sail:–
The gods of bounds,
Who sets to seas a shore,
Came to me in his fatal rounds,
And said: ‘No more!
No farther shoot
Thy broad ambitious branches, and thy root.
Fancy departs: no more invent;
Contract thy firmament
To compass of a tent.
There’s not enough for this and that,
Make thy option which of two;
Economize the failing river,
Not the less revere the Giver,
Leave the many and hold the few.
Timely wise accept the terms,
Soften the fall with wary foot;
A little while
Still plan and smile,
And,–fault of novel germs,–
Mature the unfallen fruit.
Curse, if thou wilt, thy sires,
Bad husbands of their fires,
Who, when they gave thee breath,
Failed to bequeath
The needful sinew stark as once,
The Baresark marrow to thy bones,
But left a legacy of ebbing veins,
Inconstant heat and nerveless reins,–
Amid the Muses, left thee deaf and dumb,
Amid the gladiators, halt and numb.’
As the bird trims her to the gale,
I trim myself to the storm of time,
I man the rudder, reef the sail,
Obey the voice at eve obeyed at prime:
‘Lowly faithful, banish fear,
Right onward drive unharmed;
The port, well worth the cruise, is near,
And every wave is charmed.’
Ralph Waldo Emerson