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.