Dear Graduate

by Gary Pekas, March 2010

You must feel different these times as graduation day draws near. There is that feeling of elation, the feeling of accomplishment and self-fulfillment. There are many other feelings intermingling, contributing to the pervasive air of success that surrounds prospective graduates. We meet you everywhere now, and we can identify you from the glow in your eyes, the extra spring in your step, the aura of self-satisfaction.

Savor the feeling, and make it last as long as it can, for it is only once that you graduate a particular course, whether it be preschool or college. Make it last, and celebrate not just your graduation but also the emotions that go with it. Let the happiness and positive aura infect as many people as possible: your family, your friends, your neighbors, your dog, everybody. You may not know it, but rarely in a person’s life shall one have the infectious happiness and general feeling of goodwill that you now have.

So now you roam the streets and pathways with your pals, and the collective happiness that hovers in the air around your gang and lingers even after you pass enlivens all who are lucky to whiff the air you touched, see the smiles on your faces, or hear the laughter in your speech.

Believe that the stranger you meet in the street, sharing in your elation, would like to congratulate you. Politeness just keeps them from doing so.

After graduation, you shall probably continue with celebrations with your batchmates, having parties, sharing memories, sharing plans. Many who share in your joy would give you gifts, hugs, kisses and handshakes. Your parents and the generations before you would remind you of how fast time flies, and how it was only yesterday that you were in your diapers, that snot was running down your nose. You shall be asked repeatedly about your plans for the future, and any response you give would be right.

Your parents, or guardians, and all those who contributed to your graduation share in your happiness. Some of us may even seem to be happier than you are. Yet make no mistake, your graduation is yours to celebrate, and what the rest of us mortals can do is merely to bask in your radiance, to share in the congratulations for an accomplishment where we were merely incidental.

Be reminded, however, that all those who supported you in your studies always expected you to graduate. They expected no less as they struggled to provide you with what you needed. Everybody who goes to school is counted on to eventually graduate. Your failure to do so was a scenario they never entertained. Yet we still congratulate you, albeit for something that your parents have foreseen even before you first set foot inside a classroom.

On your part, do not consider that you owe your parents for the support they have given you. They took on that responsibility when they brought you forth into this world, with no conditions. They brought you forth because of love, and it is this love that supported you. No less is expected of parents.

Should a feeling of indebtedness be unavoidable as you appreciate the support of your forebears, or should you feel compelled to give back in turn, let the actions of giving back be accompanied by the same unconditional love. You perhaps shall have children of your own, or you shall take on other responsibilities; and you shall give without condition and support without question. When you do so, you shall then share in the success of those you supported, content to merely bask in their radiance.

But that is perhaps far in the future.

Sooner than you expect, the euphoria shall wane, and you shall realize that the momentous accomplishment of graduation is but a step in the long journey of life. As we all continue on our common trek, you shall have your share of stumbles. You shall make wrong choices, like everybody else.

The only assurance that your parents can give you now is that they will continue to support you when you do so if they are yet in this world. If they are already gone, others who love you shall be there to give you a hand. For as we journey on, we shall meet more people, and with some of them we shall develop bonds of friendship and love that will help sustain us.

The same friends who share your present jubilation hopefully shall continue to be there for you, just as you shall hopefully be there for them. For, besides the certificate of graduation that you shall get to take home and besides the erudition and knowledge that you have gained, the whole experience of going to school is replete with the accumulation of friends and acquaintances. These friends will often prove much more useful than scholarly knowledge as we encounter obstacles later in life. So treasure these friendships, and add to them as you go on.

After you have become jaded, and perhaps world-weary, look back to your steps in the journey of life. When you do so, and you have the same feelings of self-fulfillment you are experiencing now, congratulate yourself for a life well lived.

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