Mid-month, July 2015, I attended my ten-year reunion for my master’s program in Spiritual Psychology. Around the first of the year when it began to be planned, I already had been musing over my time there, especially the second year when we prepared our master’s project; many psychology graduate schools no longer have their students write a thesis, but do a project that reflects their studies.
In mid January, we were traveling from our home north of Houston to Colorado Springs to share in the birth of my granddaughter and our route took us through the Texas panhandle to Raton. From there, as we took I-25 north to the Springs, several things came to me while driving.
First, it was a bit snowy, luckily only slowing us down on certain stretches. However, although I had been in New Mexico since moving away, it has not been in the winter nor entailed driving through snow; the combination brought back memories of ten years ago, driving from Taos to Denver each month for a project support meeting. I could travel two different ways the winter of 2004-05, depending on the forecast. The quickest was north through Alamosa, to Walsenburg and I-25 or, if that pass was closed, east through Cimarron to south of Raton and then north. So coming into Raton mimicked a portion of that latter drive and brought back many memories.
Since the University of Santa Monica is a one weekend a month on-campus graduate school, they had the second year students form project support teams; this allowed for both encouragement between classes and to insure a student didn’t fall too far behind with their project while completing all the other coursework. Being the only student in New Mexico, I needed to join a group in an adjoining state; I cannot remember why I ended up choosing the Colorado group, we called ourselves the Rocky Mountain High team. Looking back, I was being watched over.
There was also an Arizona group, with the travel time being approximately the same, and, although I have kept in contact with one person from that team and, back then, was great friends with another, I am grateful for joining the RMH group for several reasons, the biggest having to do with relationship.
The great friend in the other group did her best to get us to become more than friends and, with my divorce all but final by that March, another member would have been very tempting for me to date. I know, because even not being in their team, it was all I could do to remain just friends with the one and, although we did a few excursions together, I specifically named them as non-dates with the other.
The former was too much of an “A,” like my mother, sister, and ex and, even though that relationship would have been easy, it would not have lasted. Easy because she was a known quantity, so I knew what would have pleased her, but I was becoming too knowledgeable to have ever allowed myself to get trapped again. I’m thankful because I would not have wanted to hurt my friend, but in being true to my needs, an end to the relationship would have come at some point.
As it turned out, a relationship with the letter would have been great for me/us, but I was just too confused about relationships at that point. I was mistaking the fireworks of a challenge relationship (“A” personality types) with happy relationships and dismissing no fireworks as meaning a dull relationship. In truth, what I thought dull turned out to be peaceful, gentle, and loving! This second friend may have resulted in a wonderful relationship, but then I would have never married my wife, who I met through another USM classmate’s project, and we are an absolutely perfect match!
My team just didn’t present those same temptations, but not because my female teammates were not beautiful, sexy, and brilliant. One was married, another seemingly was looking for someone other than me, the third was too young, and the fourth probably fell into the “dull relationship” scenario, but without all the shared experienced the AZ team member and I had, both being from Texas. So I was able to enjoy my CO team member as wonderful friends, without additional entanglements; hopefully I was a good friend back.
Driving up to Denver, I remember the anguish over the team name, Rocky Mountain High, due to the drug reference, but it seemingly worked as we were high on achievement. I remember one blizzard I drove through, the weather report was very wrong! I also remember the loving support I received on my master’s project and the love I gave back. I remember time spent both working at the Denver team member’s home and then working and playing at another’s out west of Denver.
I remember being called out by one member on sighing while she presented and I remember not being aware enough to use my emotions to look inside, but dropped into a defense. Luckily, I was just aware enough to listen to myself and did acknowledge to this friend later that she was right, I did sigh a lot! I remember encouragements, challenges, skepticisms, and love flowing to me and from me. I also remember thinking we’d never drift apart.
Wow, what a difference ten years makes. As our ten-year reunion illustrated, the journey we all began in October 2003 is still continuing. The person I had become at graduation that July a decade ago, while ten times the person I was when I started USM, had not even reached the “adolescence stage,” as compared to the more authentic person I am now. Thanks to the Colorado group for not only being a part of that journey, but for including this outlier, both geographically and by gender, into their group.
I figured I might only see only one of my team members this weekend, and I was correct; I also hoped I was wrong (although I heard back from all of them!). But I carried each of them in my heart and missed them deeply while enjoying my other USM classmates. I am also mindful of my classmate and friend Chuck, whose birthday was the day before the reunion, I miss him terribly. Susan and two other classmates have also transitioned, Love and Light to you all. I also miss being with all my teammates twice a month. Thinking back on all the fun times and sorrows, tears of gratitude and sorrow abound.