June is upon us. Graduations! So far, one a week ago and another this Saturday. The Los Angeles Times occasionally publishes something useful and interesting and today’s article in the California Section entitled, “Graduation Talks Gain Wider Reach,” was excellent. They kicked it off with this quote from Barbara Kingsolver:
“If you run out of hope at the end of the day, rise in the morning and put it on again with your shoes. Hope is the only reason you won’t give in, burn what’s left of the ship, and go down with it – the ship of your natural life and your children’s only shot.”
Barbara Kingsolver, Duke University, North Carolina, 2008.
Then the following from Writer Anna Quindlen at Grinnell College, Iowa, 2011, left me conflicted. Does she mean abandon frugal discretion? Give in to that attack of envy brought on by our daughter’s buying a new bright red Honda Fit? Succumb to new car fever?
“Don’t cave to the status quo. Don’t trade happiness for deferred gratification. Don’t give up adventure for safety and security. The safe is the enemy of the satisfying. Deferred gratification has a way of being deferred forever.”
The number of graduations we have attended is daunting: Six college, nine high school…should have been ten, but we missed our son’s high school graduation, having thoughtlessly booked a trip to the Bahamas at the same time. Guilt! Also attended one daughter’s Law School graduation. As granddaughter, Ashley’s, graduation from Chico State University with an R.N. degree was the most recent, it was the best. It was, too, featuring excellent addresses which were motivating, thought-provoking, and brief. Two at Cal State L.A., were interminable as thousands of students marched by and we baked in the blazing sun. One featured actor, James Edward Olmos. He was not brief.
This Saturday is high school and our hope is it will be motivating, thought-provoking and…brief. Books are being created out of graduation addresses. YouTube memorializes the best and the worst. Steve Jobs’ address at Stanford University in 2005 has been viewed millions of times. Brevity is encouraged, beseeched, begged for. I heartily agree. We all want to get on to the party and the presents!
Lastly, excellent advice from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas at the University of Georgia in 2008:
“Thank the people who put up with your antics and loved you through it all. Thank the people who paid your tuition and your expenses. There are those who helped and counseled you through difficult times or when you made hard decisions. There are those who were compassionate enough to tell you what you needed to hear, not what you wanted to hear.”