Saturday, May 20, 2006

Graduation Day

Graduation day is next week at my old high school alma mater. Graduation day for me, May 24th 1968, was filled with not only excitement, relief, and expectation, but also a touch of an inexplicable sadness. The first three emotions I had been experiencing for weeks, but it took a while to figure out from where the sadness was coming. As all my friends and I were scurrying around doing last minute signing of yearbooks and saying goodbye, it finally dawned on me that I was about to move out of a very important phase of my young life. I would never pass this way again.
I know a lot of people have tortured feelings about high school, but I loved it. I was surrounded by my friends many of which seemed more like family. But I was also surrounded by loving teachers who had invested a great deal of their time and energy over the past several years just to make it possible for me to have a shot in this old world. I didn't have a clue what was coming, but I think they did. They encouraged me to dream large. It is a lesson that was not lost on me.
Another amazing thing happened on May 20th was my first date with Jilda Phillips. I had been dating her best friend Marcia Mitchell but things went south and Jilda was there for me. It seemed only natural that I ask her to be there that night. I know for a fact that she has questioned many times, the wisdom of her decision to go out with me but I am so glad she did. I can't imagine my life without
No one asked, but I think I'll provide a little unsolicited advice for the Class of 2006 -- things that have served me well. I hope they take what they can use and discard what doesn't fit.
It's not imperative that you know right now what you want to be in life. I know your parents might disagree but I think it's important to spend some quality time asking questions. College is a good place to start. Don't dodge the hard classes but don't be afraid to take some courses in which you are interested. Astronomy, art and music can be quite rewarding and can send you in unexpected and interesting directions.
Make it a practice to read; you'll discover that books have a lot to offer and they are one of the simple pleasures of life. Every now and then, take the long way home. Shoot a lot of pictures. Keep in touch with your old friends. Learn to cook, you cannot imagine how much fun it is to have folks over to share a good meal.
NEVER stop exercising. Know this: every day is a school day. Just because you no longer are "in school" does not mean that your education ends. When you close your mind, you stop growing....when you stop growing, experiencing new things and enjoying life, you become old before your time.
One last thing: the best job for you might not mean the job that pays the most money. Money is great, but if you hate what you do, you will not be doing what you were put here to do. Go forth, do something remarkable, and make a difference.


  1. Those are wonderful words. I hope you don't mind that I sent them on to a grandson who is about to graduate.

  2. Please share with anyone you think would enjoy it. Thanks so much for visiting my blog.

  3. Anonymous11:10 AM

    I too, share your feelings of “graduation day”. It was a time of feeling freed to do as I pleased. Yet, I too felt a great loss as I left my high school friends and classmates. The freedom to direct my own course was quite overwhelming along with the sadness of never being a part of the school again, which was a major part of my life to that point.
    You give some very good advice. I would hope that some of this year’s graduates would read and use it.
    This time of harvest (The “crop” being those students now leaving the high school “field”), is dear to me because my wife teaches high school. I’ve listened to all the stories and comments on her classes this year. I know very few of their names and they sound a lot like past year’s classes. They range from heartbreaking to heartwarming. There are those few that bring tears to her eyes and heart because she cannot reach them, no matter how hard she may try. There are those for whom the light begins to shine in their faces because she has helped them to learn they can be thinkers and doers. There are those whose hearts have begun to beat like a runaway drummer, soaking up knowledge as if they are a giant sponge.
    A few of this crop will have to “plowed under” on graduation day, hopefully to emerge next fall with some direction and thought to join their classmates leaving now. The rest will, as you suggest, have a chance to do something remarkable and make a difference. It is my fervent hope they will.
    High School Graduation. Be proud you made it. Celebrate it!


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