I went to a graduation ceremony for my beautiful daughter, Helen. The first speaker told me how life is fleeting and I should not waste any time. I thought about how little I have accomplished. I should have a bigger house. I should have more in savings. I should have books in libraries. I should have paintings in museums. I am a total failure.
The next speaker channeled Dr. Suess and told us to try new things. I thought about the golden chain around my neck — the one that binds me to a really good job with excellent benefits and pay. Though I would like to travel the country exchanging doodled portraits and hand-lettered coffee shop signs for food and drink, I think remaining in the employ of the technical college might be a more prudent choice.
Then the last valedictorian spoke and told me to do what I like and not consider money. She told me I should do what makes me happy. But I just want to sit in my garden and draw irises all day. That would make me happy.
I will not be attending the graduation ceremonies of my other five children. My delicate emotions cannot handle the conflicting messages. My wayfairing spirit cannot handle the tease.
I would go to the garden now to draw some lady slippers, but I have to prepare a lesson for class. Please, you go draw for me.
If you had to give a speech at such an event as this, what would you tell people? (*pen ready, she waits*)
Kim, (I am so sorry it took me so long to respond to this.) I would ask the parents to cover their ears. Then I would tell the graduates to read the first chapter of Yvon Chouinard’s book, Let My People Go Surfing. I would tell them to go on the adventures I am too cowardly to go on myself. I would tell them to sleep under boulders, eat cat food mixed with whole oats and climb rocks. I would tell them to surf and kayak and free dive, and accidentally become millionaires only because they were so passionately pursuing their dreams. That’s what I would tell them.
Then I would go home, change into my pajamas and sip coffee on my leather couch.