Friday, June 08, 2007

Taking Time To Reflect

by Brian and Jennifer Mullen

Well, there can be no doubt that summer is here. If the blooming flowers, sweltering heat and swimming pool advertisements weren't enough to convince you, there's the sight of lots of teenagers fresh out of school to drive it all home.

So far this summer Jen and I have attended three commencement ceremonies for nieces and nephews which also means we have heard three commencement speeches. I don't remember much about the commencement speech at my own graduation ceremonies except how amazingly long they were. At the time I had been surprised anyone could babble on for as long as they did without saying anything of interest. But that's probably an unfair recollection. When you're the one graduating, your mind is filled with countless other thoughts: seeing friends and family, going on vacation, celebrating afterwards. The speech is an obstacle to these things and, as such, is hardly of interest.

To my surprise, it was a completely different experience as a guest sitting in the audience, unconcerned with what was happening later and, therefore, actually LISTENING to the speeches.

Three different speakers, three different speeches, but one common theme: enjoy the journey of life for it is a gift.

If this was the same message in my graduation ceremony, I'm sorry I hadn't paid attention then. That would have been the best time to hear it, when you're young enough to experience life to the fullest and before the routine drudgery starts to weed its way into your life.

When we are young, the time does not seem to go quickly enough. When will I be old enough to stay up later? When will school be over? When are we leaving? Are we there yet? How many hours, minutes, seconds? The seasons can't change fast enough.

Then we graduate from High School, and we can't wait to graduate from college, get our own apartment, buy a car, get a good job and finally have some real spending money. Then we become consumed with getting newer and newer cars, better paying jobs, a bigger and better place to live. We yearn to pay off the mortgage on our home, our student loans, our car payments, our credit card debts. Soon we're yearning for retirement and an end to the rat race. We can't wait to reach Social Security and get checks so we can finally relax - travelling the country at a leisurely rate, seeing family, laying outside in a hammock with a glass of lemonade and no responsibilities whatsoever. Enjoying life.

But that's the whole point of the speech, isn't it?

This morning I woke up at 6 a.m., took a shower, got dressed and drove to work. I worked all day, climbed back in my car and drove home. I made a quick dinner, collected the dirty clothes and started the laundry. The wife came home from work and we sorted the mail, prepared the bills and straightened up the house. Now I sit writing this blog and she has crawled into bed.

But I know as I write this that tomorrow is going to be different. I'm going to make it different. Tomorrow there will be dinner out and a movie. If the weather's nice, maybe we'll walk around our local park. I'm going to make a point to enjoy the journey of life tomorrow.


Annette said...

I'm still eager for some things to happen: first book deal, first book published. But I'm NOT looking forward to Social Security. Or retirement. By the time I get there, I don't know that there will be such a thing. Maybe it will be trading one job for another lowerer paying one. Greeter at WalMart perhaps.

My dad was lucky. He had several good years after retirement to travel and tinker in his garden. My husband's dad never did really retire. He left one good paying job for three not-so-good paying jobs and died young.

My point is, take that trip now. Go for that walk today. Go out to dinner tonight. Don't wait for a reason to celebrate. Enjoy life TODAY.

Pearl said...

Glad you came away changed and lifted with inspiration. Life's precious.

Joyce said...

Great message, Brian.

If you can't enjoy the ride, what's the purpose of the trip?

Tory said...

My college graduation was long, hot, and boring, as they insisted on calling all the names and presenting diplomas to EVERYONE. Can't remember the speaker, but I'm sure it was short.

My High School graduation was in Michigan, and I remember they paid a lot of money and flew in Governor Romney especially for the occasion. The student speeches were short, to the point, and funny, but the Govenor rambled on and on, not clear on what his point was. I do remember one sentence, "All I'll say about this theory or evolution is, maybe I was descended from an ape, but I can't imagine my wife being descended from an apess!"

At the time, all I could think was, "What a waste!"

lisa curry said...

Brian, what a good blog. I agree wholeheartedly that one has to enjoy the journey. Among the gazillions of papers and notebooks my firstborn brought home the last day of this school year (3rd grade) was a journal called, "Month-to-Month Me." One of the pages in it was titled, "All About My Mom," and it was most interesting to see myself through my son's eyes. Some of it was what I expected, like, "My mom's hair is curly, and her eyes are blue," and "My mom's favorite kind of music is the Rolling Stones." But some of it was a surprise, like, "My mom looks pretty when she goes to work." (I think I would faint from shock if he ever actually said something so complimentary.) Most surprising was what he listed as my hobbies: "Cooking." (If that's a hobby, so is doing laundry and shopping for groceries.) "Watching me play baseball." (Okay, I do a lot of that, and I enjoy it, but I never quite thought of it as a hobby.) And, "Having fun." It was that one that really made me stop and think. And what I thought was that that's how I'd like my children to remember me -- as someone who knew how to have fun -- and that's one thing I sincerely hope I can teach them -- how to have fun and enjoy life.