(Since it's graduation time again, I'm re-posting this.... with an update or two....)
Receiving graduation invitations was part of having taught school for twenty years. To bring something unique, I began devising “Advice to Graduates” that I sometimes slipped into cards. I’ve added to it year after year. And I probably will continue to do so. Such is life and its lessons.
ADVICE TO GRADUATES
Gary T. Czerwinski
We live in an age of technology that is shrinking the world. Ironically, it is alienating societies and individuals. Tribalism isn’t diminishing, it is growing. So be careful to what “tribe” you choose to belong. And, in your lifetime, many will appear and beckon. And that includes techy toys. Do you own them? Or do they own you?
Learn to spend a day or two without any technology, without electricity. Make it a family affair. Learn how to cook over an outdoor fire. Learn how to communicate without an electrical devise. Learn how to imagine and to improvise. Why? Because one day, it may just save your life. And learn how to preserve food.
We live in the prescribed "age of information" where we just have to push a button to find out anything. Well, be very careful. "Easy" is often pleasurable. Instead, seek the responsible.
With information, there is also mis-information. I am sorry to inform you, but you go into the world and the future having to do even more homework. That is correct. Even more, not less, homework. Do not take any "opinion" for granted. You life may/will/does depend on doing your own research. America was built during "The Age of Reason." Test and question all evidence. Even if it does not follow the "science" of the time.
Much of what we learn in school is how to function in a group--not how to function on our own. When you can function on your own, you can never be alienated. Instead, you will become a magnet. Never underestimate the power of one. One has changed the world. One idea. One action. One vote. One step. One by one.
Be an example. Examples stand alone. That is why they are presented at the beginning of the page of exercises to be solved. As of right now, this very minute, I challenge you to pledge to be a problem solver. Pledge, to be a solution in your life. Pledge to improve your generation and your country. From relationships, to jobs, to marriage, to parenting. Do not and not a problem in all that you endeavor.
Trust in the Universe, our last frontier. Learn from it. The greatest strides in civilization have come from looking up, not down. The Universe is limitless and undiscovered. There are no horizons in space. No ups. No downs. No sideways. Don’t be afraid to make your own horizons. Make your own directions. Make sure your mind is as open and as vast as space itself.
And, yes, we are not alone in the Universe. Get used to it.
Honor Nature, for we are losing it minute by minute. We live on a wonderful planet! What have you done to make it better? To preserve its beauty? To guarantee its success?
And take care of your body. Health is a life-long process. Don't be a slob. Your environment is a reflection of your brain. And personal hygiene and dress is a reflection of common sense. Even a cat cleans itself.
It is okay to be afraid. Fear is often the harbinger of growth. Don’t run. It is better to be scared and to go forward then not to be scared and end up going nowhere. As Einstein said, “Adversity is opportunity in disguise.”
There is no such thing as “absolute truth.” The purpose of being human, the purpose of being educated, the purpose of being civilized, and the responsibility of living in a civilized and free culture is to question and to learn. Learn from everything. Take what is best from all ideologies, cultures, individuals, religions. To do so means your are always CONSTRUCTING your life, not just LIVING a life. Not to do so means others are living your life for you. And that has led to every major war in our time.
Right now, your entire world has been contained within your home or your school. Even your town. You have won sport awards. You have run the fastest. You have broken records. You have achieved the most A's and B's. How wonderful. But now that all changes ... and you transcend from the safe womb of buildings to the scary life of the real world.
No one really cares who you are. I know that sounds cruel, but that is just how life works. If you have awards, don't forget them and help others to also achieve.
So, maybe you aren't the most successful ... But now is your chance. During events such as this, we talk about future, future, future. Well, no future is endless. Right now, you all have an incredible 60 years ahead of you to decide who you are.
Success really is measured in “having,” “getting,” and “acquiring.” And, yes, money really can make you happy. But it is also measured in what you give to others. And the grace and manner with which you receive when given to. For those to whom much is given, much is expected in return.
Start an emergency savings account today. Put change in a jar. Put dollar bills in a can. And then put it out of reach but within easy access.
Remember Emerson who said we always know when we are about to do something that is wrong. Listen to that inner voice. Cultivate and meditate in its silence. Intuition can save your life.
There is no such thing as a good secret. The easiest way to destroy a relationship, family, business, government, even yourself, is through secrets. There are two sides to every story. In politics, there are six.
Guess what? It really does make a difference who is the President of the United States. Don't just cast a vote, cast an informed vote.
Life isn’t easy. It’s not supposed to be. You don’t have a right to expect it to be. Treasure its challenges as difficult as they may be. Difficulties are often hidden clues that point the way to your destiny and identity. Suffering will cleanse your pride and strengthen your humility. Much of life is a fight. If you aren’t fighting, maybe you are not living.
Speaking of life . . . Life is creation! So never stop creating. Draw. Paint. Plant. Sculpt. Bake. Read. Think. Write. Sing. Compose. Share. But, for heaven’s sake, make something from nothing! Don’t be someone who makes nothing from everything.
Volunteer and praise and support those who do.
From this moment forward, life becomes less and less about you. And remember this: marriage is less about love than it is about the other person. Anyone can fall in love. And most do. But only half can love their other half more than they do themselves. And if you have children, life is all about them, not you. Marriage is for life. Choose a partner wisely.
When all else fails, family is all we got! Keep those doors open. But if you can’t, if you have to close them, don’t turn the key. Don’t lock them out. Just close the door and keep the key in your pocket.
Children are like credit cards. Easy to get, difficult to pay off. Both begin with temptation. If you can’t afford either, don’t apply!
Pray. Choose a god. Choose a deity. Choose a rock. Choose something. But spend several minutes before beginning each day with a prayer. Say thank-you. Your prayer should be a life-long quest. And remember, unanswered prayers are often the ones that actually have been answered. Learn discernment.
The most important events in our life are often the ones over which we have no control. Be receptive to chance and luck. It will change your life. Our time and the Universe’s time are not in sync. What seems bad or evil on our time often has better consequences and revelations on the Universe’s time down the road. Be patient.
Never give up. Never stop believing that there is good in the world. Your journey in life is to be that goodness.
Most of all, be happy! The test of its fruition lies in its foundation of responsibility, respect, honesty, patience, knowledge, truth, spirit, beauty. These things actually grow. They will help others to grow, too. Their opposites: lying, cheating, greed, ignorance, jealousy, envy, pride . . . are all short-lived and ultimately lead to failure and destruction.
Now here is your last assignment: Keep this list and start adding to it!
--copyright 2013 Gary T. Czerwinski