Each graduation season I republish two pseudo-graduation, unspoken keynote speeches. The first came when my stepdaughter graduated from nursing school. The second came because I had a few more things to consider (see following musing). The first one has taken on new meaning as my lovely granddaughter graduated from high school. It seemed appropriate that Gramps say a few things to her as well.
This is the graduation season, and in high schools and colleges across the land there are graduation ceremonies and keynote speeches. Depending on the school, that speech may be given by someone local or perhaps by some famed celebrity or political figure. Regardless of whom, the speaker will try to impart some bit of wisdom, some kind of advice to the graduating students. CBS news found some of these speeches so interesting that they had video clips of several speakers on their evening news. One would be hard pressed to disagree with anything said, but speaking from experience, I can vouch for the fact that the words Lincoln spoke in his Gettysburg Address apply to all keynote addresses – “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here.”
Since that applies equally to all I write as well, I have no fear in penning my own short keynote address. Here it is:
Dear Maddie and graduating students: You have successfully achieved a significant milestone in your life, and for that you should be proud. No doubt, mixed in with all that pride there is a sense of fear of the future, the unknown. What I have to say about that applies equally to your new profession and to your life. For if I can offer you only one piece of advice about both of them, it is this: Enjoy the journey!
Clearly, the journey that begins for you, starting today, is a journey into the rest of your life. Regardless of how well you have planned for it, let me tell you that you have no idea exactly how that trip will unfold. How successful you will be in your profession, how happy you will be in life are true unknowns. You can attribute the outcome to God, fate, hard work or luck – the choice is yours.
What you learn as you get older is that you may think you know where you are going, but life has a funny way of creating detours and side trips. The destination you enter in your life’s GPS navigation system is not necessarily where the directions will take you. I promise you that 30, 40 or 50 years from now you will look back and confess that you had no idea that you would end up where you then are.
But there are a few things you can know about your future. Let me tell you what they are. You should know you will experience success and failure. You will soar, will love, and will plunge into heartbreak. You will see life created and see life end. You will see humanity discover marvels that will benefit all mankind and yet, at the same time, it will find ways to degrade peoples’ very existence. There will be glorious highs and seemingly bottomless lows. Life is full of cycles, and as sure as you can get through one, know that you can get through the next.
And as you are enjoying that journey, be sure to collect a few souvenirs. I would suggest that some good friends and great memories will do. Because when you approach the end of your journey, you will have learned that they are the most important things anyone can collect along life’s way.
I will not be here when you come to the end of your journey but, trust me, I will know if you remembered and heeded my advice. I wish you well and safe journey.