Tuesday, June 7, 2011
"To A Nephew Upon Graduation"
You graduate from High School this week. It is a bittersweet affair; you are excited to have reached the milestone, are both relieved and proud of its completion...yet sad that you are losing the day-to-day contact of friends whom you've known all of your life.
You will read the comments your friends have written in your yearbook; they will reveal many feelings about you which both delights and surprises you. Many of them will not be seen or heard from again until you attend a 20-year reunion, when so many of life's choices will have been made and settled for all of you.
You are now setting off for a grand new adventure. But before, you go, turn around and take a look back. Tarry awhile and take a moment to look at your parent's faces. You will see both joy and sadness. Sadness that the little boy who they coaxed into his first step at age one is now going on alone, independent of them, joy that you have accomplished a great deal. They hold within their hearts a dream for you; a dream that you will continue to expand your horizons and live a long, healthy and joyous life.
They tended you through your growth. Just as a good gardener tends to his garden, they have tended to your needs, trying to insure you are nourished and protected from the buffeting winds of life. They tended you well, making sure your time in the sun was warm and pleasant and your roots were well established. You have now reached the flowering stage and your future development rests with you. Each decision you make, and each step you take now will be like the petals of a flower; will you huddle tightly within yourself, afraid to flower?....or will you open yourself up in spectacular blooming and lift your face to the sun? Will you remember that your roots are strong and feel confident that you can now face the storms of life with courage?
It is all up to you now.
Now in my sixth decade, and having learned a few of life's lessons, may I offer these words of advice?
At this stage of your young life you are blessed with both uncertainty and a sense of grand adventure and exploration. Liberate your mind so that you are open to this great opportunity to explore all that the world has to offer, all that excites you, all that offers enrichment to your soul. Listen to all points of view, have the wisdom to recognize that what you don't know far exceeds that which you do. When you have come to that realization you will have become an "educated" man.
Use the first years of your education to study the liberal arts; learn to appreciate fine literature, classical music and depth and beauty of fine arts. Learn to read and write well. Flirt with the world and learn what inspires and captivates your imagination. Doing so will lead you to a career path that you will want to follow. Throw away the conventional notion that one must pursue "the big money"; that will never bring you either satisfaction or happiness. Instead, choose a profession that excites you, for if you do, your occupation will forever be a labor of love....and not of drudgery. Choose a profession that has you bouncing out of bed in the morning, enthusiastic to "get to it!".
As long as I have known you, you have always been a fine young man. You are blessed with a family that loves you very much, who have sang your praises loud and often. I'm proud of you also. However, the greatest pride...and the most significant....will be the pride you have within yourself.
So now, nephew, the long tendering and the loving care given to you by your family now culminates in its first fruition. You are taking that first tentative step down the path of your adult life. As you turn to go, always remember that you have the prayers and good wishes of all that love you. And always remember that family...and home..are where you may always turn for comfort when the world occasionally turns a cold shoulder.