Thursday, May 30, 2024
From My Front Porch

Graduation is right around the corner … let the future begin!

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With May comes graduation. There are college graduations, high school graduations, and I even got an invitation to my granddaughter’s kindergarten graduation. Amazingly, this year is the 50th anniversary of my high school graduation, so I have done a little reflecting on the whole graduation process.

I think each of us has a slightly different view of this celebrated May ritual. For many families, it is a big event where the whole family comes together to recognize the progress of one of its members. There is the ceremony itself, gifts, parties, and the constant questioning of the graduate about their future. Some students believe they know exactly what they want to do with their lives and are anxious to get started. Others are less certain. It is a time where many young people, whether it be for a job or for school, will be moving away from home for the first time.

Graduation ceremonies never mattered to me. I would not have gone through my high school graduation ceremony except my mother told me she would not ever forgive me if I didn’t. Now, that is a pretty strong incentive to participate! I did go through college graduation to recognize the event with my fraternity brothers, but I never went to graduation when I received my post graduate degree. What mattered to me was the degree was a “ticket” to get into the “game of life.” I wanted to progress and move forward. The ceremony never mattered, but at the same time, I understand why the ceremony is important to others.

Parents are equally anxious this time of year. There is concern about graduation celebrations and prayers that the graduates will use good judgment during their celebratory evening to ensure safety and that no catastrophic accidents occur. The parents may not express it out loud, but they are also uncertain of their future as their family dynamic changes, seeing one of their offspring leaving the nest.

It is certainly a time of change, and, for the students, the world is their oyster! The possibilities are infinite, and that is both exciting and terrifying. What they have been preparing for the past 18 or so years has finally arrived. The time has come where they must start making the first true significant decisions in their lives. What type of work do they want to do? Where do they want to live? How do they see their future and what sacrifices do they want to make to accomplish their perceived goals? It is perhaps the first time they must truly manage their money or even borrow money in terms of a student loan. The time has come when they cannot rely on Mom and Dad so much. As they move out of their family home, they are compelled to do their own laundry, clean up after themselves, have control over their day, and make decisions that will truly affect their own destiny. Parents can only hope they have taught their children well, and they are ready for the challenge.

As I look back on my graduation 50 years ago, I cannot help but smile. Though I had plans to go to college and complete a post graduate degree, I had no idea what the future held for me. Leaving home was a culture shock, and experiencing life was both rewarding and punishing. I made mistakes along the way, and so will our current graduates. It is all part of the game of life. Nothing is set in stone, there is not an answer to every question, there are only choices and consequences. We all learn as we go. At least we hope we do. I’m not sure on graduation day I could have ever predicted how my life has played out, but I am glad I got to experience the journey. It is full of joy and pain, and most of all learning. The learning of life never stops.

Congratulations, seniors! Go forward and live your lives to the fullest. Remember that no matter what your future, your education in the school of life continues. You have entered the next level, and now there are more steps to climb. Such is the joy of life.

Thought for the day: “What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Until next time…I will keep ridin’ the storm out.