By Mark Carpenter –
There are very few things that I am sure of in this world these days but one of them is that I won’t be giving any graduation speeches any time soon. I’m a writer, not a speaker, but in the last few days I have been mulling over what I would say if I was talking to a group of graduates, so here goes my attempt to impart wisdom without stealing Sandra Bullock’s recent advice to graduates- “Don’t pick your nose in public.”
It would not be appropriate if I did not begin my comments with a sports reference, so graduates, let me first warn you that life can be very humbling just like sports. Remember that a baseball player can make millions of dollars by failing seven time in 10 tries. Hitting the ball is not as easy as you might think. Life is the same way, Just when you think that everything is going to be easy, life slaps you with a big old case of “humble”. So how do you respond? You pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and go right back at it again.
For the most part, you have been on easy street for the past 18 years and didn’t even realize it. I know what you are thinking. he has no clue what I have been through to get to this point. Well, there you are wrong. What all of you graduates seem to forget is that us “old folks” were once “young folks” too. Granted, we survived without cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Netflix, digital cable, laptop computers, and the list goes on and on. By the time you are my age, those things that I just mentioned will be obsolete, replaced by some new and shiny item. Yes, life changes and it changes quickly so be prepared to face the changes. It won’t go as you have it planned right now in your graduating minds.
Life is like sports in another way too. It is the craziest roller coaster ride you will ever go on. One minute you can be the king or queen of the world at the top of the mountain with the world at your feet, and the next you can be lying at the bottom of the hill thinking, “what just hit me?” Again, what do you do? Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and go right back at it again.
Most of you have spent the last 18 years ignoring everything your elders have told you. Let me throw this at you. If it hasn’t dawned on you already, your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or whomever is responsible for your well-being are only in it for your own good. “Been there, done that” does mean something. Be thankful every day for family, it’s the rock that this nation is built upon along with the good man upstairs who created that entity in the first place. Forget all the temper tantrums, arguments, and disagreements. You can’t change the past so don’t waste your time trying. You are facing a new beginning at this moment and it might be a good time to listen to those who might actually know what they are talking about.
I have been more than fortunate to have the privilege of covering the high school sports careers of most of you and let me tell you, I have been impressed. I could go on and on about hundreds of outstanding young people in this county and I wish every one of them nothing but the best . I hope I filled your scrapbooks with lots of memories that they can share with their families forever. Remember that time in high school when we played at….well, you can fill in the rest.
Now it’s off to the world you go. As Dr. Suess says, “The places you’ll go, the things you will see.” I will warn you, though, that the world can be a pretty unpleasant place sometimes but that is one thing that you might already be aware of.
The great John Denver may have said it best in one of his songs when he sang, “my life is worth the living, I don’t need to see it end.” To every one of this year’s graduates, your life is definitely worth the living and you aren’t seeing the end. You are at a new beginning, the first of many of those in the next few years. Now is your time to make a difference.
I wrote this column back in 2014 and it still holds true in 2018. Graduation from high school or college is just another step along the way in the game of life. You have spent the last few months hearing the word “last” over and over again, but now it is time to substitute the word “first.” Make every one of those “firsts” one to remember.