Another June is rapidly passing, so hooray and congratulations to the dudes and dudettes of the graduating class of 2018. Take pride in and honor this accomplishment. It is real and it is your first significant milestone in life that contributes to springboarding you into true adulthood.
Keep this in mind: You have legitimacy and validity because each of you have unique and personal histories, brief as they are at this point. You’ve laughed, you’ve cried and you’ve paid some dues, and you’ll continue to do so as you work your way through this drama called life.
Honor all of the achievements life is going to offer you the opportunity to accomplish. They all will forever define you and serve as legacy cornerstones to who you will ultimately be in terms of personal dignity, self-respect and a valuable member of the human family.
I’ve been around the block a few times on this third rock from the sun and there are a few things one can’t help but learn along the way. I want to share them with you because the most important person you don’t want to lose track of is you! I offer you the following, which I seldom hear mentioned as you move ahead and go forward in life. Call it advice if you want, but I’m as serious as a heart attack about every bit of it. So, graduates, here’s the thing ...
You primarily have three responsibilities in life. One, be a good, decent and trustworthy human being. Two, earn a living in order to be personally responsible for yourself and those you may vow to love and dedicate yourself to. And three, beyond making a living, be sure to make a fulfilling life because they are not necessarily the same by a long shot. The first two certainly aren’t brain surgery; they’re as straight forward as you can get, but it’s number three that I want you to embrace and that I’m going to focus on here.
Please strive to understand a couple of things I feel are basic rules of life. They are fundamental to all of this yet very few tell you about them and, unfortunately, too many learn too late. They are that you are not, I repeat, you are NOT responsible for other people’s expectations, no matter who they are or what they want to expect from you. It is your life to define, pursue and validate, and it’s the only one you’re going to have.
My other basic rule of life is don’t let school get in the way of your education. Think about it. Some of you are going on to college, trade school, or some other formal training. School and education are not interchangeable parts. They are not synonymous. For that matter, don’t let the politics of party or various religious ideologies and dogmas get in the way of your education either. You’re liable to find way too much intolerance there. The education that served me best had nothing to do with a classroom.
Earlier I warned that you don’t want to lose track of you, and to be sure to make a fulfilling life. In this regard, I offer the following three bits of what some might call unconventional advice.
First, follow your bliss; the thing that makes you whole. That special thing that completes you and adds meaning to your life but may have nothing at all to do with making a living. It defines you every bit as much as a fingerprint or retina scan.
Maybe its softball every summer. Maybe golf or tennis because you love it and not because the corporate world has a league and you’re expected to play. Perhaps it’s playing in a band or local symphony, or getting involved in community theater, or dedicating yourself to a service club.
How about the wonderful things you might produce through the solitude of your own creativity: woodworking, writing, painting and sculpting. And nobody has to understand it but you. For those who don’t, no amount of explanation will suffice. For those who do, no explanation is necessary. So follow your bliss.
Second, fart around! Don’t ever let life put you in such a tight little box that you can’t just fart around. It puts and keeps glee in your life. It can put a smile on your face and make you laugh out loud. You may talk about a practical joke on one of your best buds for a lifetime. There are times in life when all you’ll have is your sense of humor. No matter your age or where you’re at; no matter how serious life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.
What you know will always trump what others think, so always make time to fart around.
Third, darn it, be kind to one another, and be kind to your fellow man. The easiest thing to be is a simple-minded, self-centered jerk who doesn’t care if he/she hurts people. Good grief we have enough of those! There may be times when it’s more important to be kind than to be right.
So, follow your bliss, spend time farting around, and be kind to one another. You will be happy, and you will be loved. To each or you, may fates keeper of safe harbor rest a gentle hand on your shoulder.
Ron Weber is a multi-award winning poet and writer who lives in Stevensville.