Advice for the graduates

My Lilly graduated this weekend. I could wax eloquently about how proud we are of her (we are), how her future is bright (it is), how she was first in her class (we homeschool) and that she has her whole life ahead of her (she does), but what I really want to tell her and her graduating peers is not just platitudes of conquering the world, but some of the truth in those wisdom-giving sayings, as well as a few other thoughts.

* So the saying taken from Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor is “the world is your oyster.” Let’s throw out the original violent context from the play and we have a saying ripe with the encouragement that you can make your life anything. Go out there and grab your oyster; after all, oysters have pearls, and so you have riches out there that await you. If you grew up around water like I did and you ever went clamming or looking for oysters in a seashore tidal pool, then you know it is a process and can be hard work. So just remember, Graduates, finding that oyster can take hard work and you most often cannot just stop at one. Life is typically a series of oysters and you have to work. And you can’t just stop at finding one oyster and letting it sit; remember, seafood will stink after a few days.

* Soap operas, TV shows and movies do not depict real life. Sure there may be emotions, themes or an essence about the show we can relate too, but they are larger-than-life caricatures of people. Please don’t go through life expecting everything to work out like a two-hour movie with a neat and tidy ending. Life is great and marvelous, but if you stack your boyfriend/girlfriend, job and social outings up against your favorite show, you will be disappointed. Don’t do it.

* Forest Gump’s “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know which one you are going to get,” is true. When I graduated high school, if you had told me I would move 15 times in 25 years of marriage, birth nine children and be a homeschool mom, I would have laughed at you right along with ALL my classmates. But oh what an adventure it has been and a charmed life too amidst the moments of heartache and sorrow. But those were only moments. So be fluid. Let’s define fluid – a substance that has no fixed shape and yields easily to external pressure. Be willing to be fluid and go with the flow.

* Remember to not take yourself or the moment you find yourself in too seriously. Remember it will pass. You may not have a choice in your circumstances or it may feel that way, but both your feelings and the moment really are going to pass.

* “You’re on top of the world” or “at the top of your game.” What do those sayings really mean? If you live your life feeling like you have climbed some mountain peak and the rest is downhill after that one job, one experience or one moment, you will live a life of discontent. You will find yourself undervaluing or under-appreciating precious, sweet moments in your life. Yes, there will be once-in-a-lifetime experiences but don’t live your life longing for them and wasting your days seeking them out; sometimes they just find you. In the quiet, subtle living of day-to-day there are many moments of beauty to be found.

* “Bloom where you are planted.” Your life may take you many far-off places or you may spend all your days in your hometown , but choose to bloom. Just as a flower needs water and nutrients to grow, tend the garden of your life.

* Be unique. Don’t worry about being one of the crowd, but do remember in the crowd there are friends to be made and memories to make. Don’t try to go at this life alone.

* Speaking of alone, cling to your faith. As a Christian, I would tell you, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5) If you do that you really can’t go wrong. It doesn’t mean life will always be “a piece of cake,” but it will just be easier.

And a small final piece of advice from the movie Finding Nemo: when you don’t know what else to do, “just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming.”

It’s a grand world out there – enjoy it!

Oh and eating an organic apple a day, drinking plenty of water and exercise each day can go a long way too! 😉

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