Somewhere in the shadows of history is a column I wrote making a clear and understandable statement to high school graduates that success isn’t guaranteed; it must be worked for and fought for and appreciated for its fragility and lack of permanence if you fail to continue working and fighting to maintain it.
Because nothing in my mind has changed on that subject I address the future of all graduates.
Wake up tomorrow and recognize you’re in a new place in your life. It can be as pleasant or as miserable as you make it. Mom and Dad are not responsible for your actions, happiness or lifestyle anymore. You’re being thrust full force toward tomorrow and must know the only way to conquer it is to recognize its non-existence. That’s right: its non-existence.
You’ll have to live in the NOW of this world. You must make sure what you do has merit and bears relevance to what you’re doing at this time only. There’s no time in the real world for daydreaming, mooning over lost loves or placing survival in other’ hands. You’re responsible for yourself and your actions. You’ve become what you’ve wanted to be – adults.
Adults must remember the mistakes of yesterday, plan for the possibilities of tomorrow and live in the here and now of life. You establish priorities and work your way through them until you’ve earned success. Nobody rewards you for being “Most Popular” or “Most Likely to Succeed”. Accolades based on superficiality are worthless; they don’t earn a paycheck.
Keep faith with your employer. Give a full day’s work for a full day’s pay. Don’t fear giving more for less. Don’t curse an apparent wrong until you’ve understood its true wrongfulness. There may be more to the story than you know. Speak to your fellow man, not behind his back. Gossip hurts hearts, wounds souls and kills friendship. It’s alright to make mistakes. Learn to not repeat them.
Return to the basic tenets of human value. Recognize honesty and humility are valued qualities. Sincere attention paid to others without seeking reward is a virtue. The hard work and the sweat of your brow bring the blooms flower your life’s garden. It’ll be admired by those looking at it from the outside. You’ll feel the glow of accomplishment and see the benefit of good works.
Watch small children playing. Copy their laughter and smiles to warm your day. When other people less grounded would chill you with their coldness and lack of compassion, take those children’s joys and give them to your adversaries. It’ll make you feel better to share than to simply be a taker of trust.
Show kindness to those less fortunate than you. Keep faith with your higher power and know your questions have more value than self-serving answers not well thought out. Share your love with the elderly who’ve loved you unconditionally, as they hope to be loved. Shake the hand of somebody you don’t like and believe in the cordiality of your effort. The effects can amaze you.
Turn your face upward to the rain and don’t be too quick to wipe it from your face. Its cleanliness and freshness to your spirit is only found when you appreciate the presence of nature; and you’re a part of it. Jump in the puddles and splash around for the fun of it; you don’t have to be old if you don’t want to be. Ignore jealousy and hatred. They’re a waste of energy and a denial of all that is good within the person. Keep confidence with friends and don’t betray the trust placed in you.
When you have kids, teach them, as you’d wish to be taught. With compassion and love, you build new worlds of hope. Be strong when they’re weak and accept the fact sometimes, in their innocence, they’re right. Give hugs and kisses instead of bribes and cajoling for good behavior and see good citizenship blossom. Make the rules and stick to them; for them and yourself. Cherish their sleeping hours, quiet times and love them in their rambunctious ways. Give love without condition or contract; be free with it like chocolate sprinkles on white frosting. You can’t really have too much of either.
Always seek to be the one they trust when the world will hurt them. Give shelter when necessary, but place no wall before them when it is time for them to venture out again. Remember, when you shield them from the darkness you may also keep them from the light. Let them move toward the light of their new knowledge and appreciate their efforts to know it better. Teach them truth; accept no lies or deceptions. Correctness should be your path and the one your kids must learn to walk safely and with honor. It’s the trust you hand on to the generations that follow.
In closing, always know that we love you and wish you only the best of everything. We trust you’ll leave yours with better than we have left you. At least that’s what we hope.
Thanks for Listening.