It would be natural, when meeting a friend from a shared past, to spend some amount of time talking over that past--reminiscing, chatting about "where is so-and-so now?" or "remember the time when..?" But our hour had none of that. On the contrary, we talked not so much as friends from the past, but as people who had spent 30 years leading jaggedly parallel lives--in some ways, nothing like each other, in others, full of experiences different but in common. We talked of our positions in the world now, and the challenges of the changes that happen over thirty years. And though we barely scratched the surface, of the past or of our presents, I came away somehow feeling I had happened upon a kindred spirit.
The past is a funny thing. We can put it away, or we can keep it very much alive. We can shudder at it, or we can think back on it fondly. Yet, any way we think about it, it gives us the gift of perspective. In this case, my gift was born from the past, but very much alive in the present. And maybe that is the best way we can appreciate where we have been--by allowing where we have been to open us up to understanding, with the help of those who have been with us, where we are now.
I had the occasion to spend a little time with a friend from a long time ago. It was a gift from the past. But one that I am happy to have opened very much in the present.