Monday, June 9, 2014

Commencement 2014

Pomp and Circumstance plays in the background.
Hello my liripoop twirling young men and women. So, you’ve managed to fulfill the requirements laid down by your institution of learning to merit a slip of paper that claims you are ready for the world. If, today, I appear somewhat cynical, it may be that I’m older than you and the person next to you combined. I can tell you that in my first 18 years of life, I learned a lot. But in the next 18 I learned even more. I’m only halfway through my next 18 years, and good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I should be around at the end of that. And who knows what the culture and technology will be like then?
You will indulge my angry old man attitude here, you ought to because your diplomas are here next to me and I could spill my coffee on them if I felt ignored. Yes, in my day we didn’t have social networks. If we wanted to communicate with someone, we had to use a land line. And if, when I was 18 years old, you called the telephone a “land line” you would not have been understood. If you wanted movie times or store hours, you used a phone. If you wanted a driving directions, you had to get a real map you could hold in your hand. If you wanted facts and information, well, we had newspapers, magazines and books.
But today, if I don’t know how to spell a word, I just type it into my computer and it will tell me if I’m right. It might even correct it for me. This has gotten to the point where I might be writing something by hand and I will wait to see if I have a red underline beneath something I’ve written in pen. To tell you the truth, young graduates, I love today’s technology. I can go on the inter-webs and go to The Face Book dot com and look up the group of folks that I graduated with and revel in the knowledge that they are just as old looking as I am. Ha-ha, or should I say, lol, right?
Okay, I understand that there’s no stopping what’s happening and that, for the most part, this new technology is something good. But put your phones down for a moment and hear me out. The wisdom I have to dispense while standing up here is almost finished, and you know what? It’s not worth much. Did I just say that? I think so. You see, when I look all over the internets I see inspirational quotes, sometimes set against some kind of background that is supposed to reinforce the supposed wisdom of what is being stated. Sometimes the quote will be attributed to someone, a pop culture icon or and admired historical figure who’s in favor at the time.
Young graduates, clever soundbites are no match for a few years of trial and error. You are going to make mistakes, some will hurt and some will cost you. However, don’t let any of them be wasted. You will learn more from the mistakes you make than any wisdom offered on social networks.
Out those doors, there’s a real world that does not distinguish how you’ve decorated the flat cap your liripoop hangs from. By all means, have confidence as you go out into it. But know that things will happen that you didn’t plan and didn’t wish for. Those incidents will be where the real learning is.
I’ve taken up enough of your time. My coffee is just about finished and I need to use the restroom now. If you remember one thing from this message, it’s that there is only one you, not done growing in wisdom and knowledge. Please be safe as you celebrate. Live to experience another day. 

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