Sunday, June 10, 2012

You Only Live Once

It’s that time again…the end of a school year.  High school and college graduations; families celebrating the accomplishments and future goals of their high school or college graduates; and students, like my youngest, preparing to move up from middle school to high school. 

Honestly, it’s really hard to comprehend the fact that it has already been a year since my oldest graduated from high school.  Even more so that he will soon complete his first year in college.  As my youngest moves on to high school, I know I better not blink because the next four years will completely fly by.
Yesterday I attended the graduation ceremony at the high school where my oldest graduated last year and where my youngest will be attending next year.  The graduating class included one of my own family members as well as sons and daughters of some of my friends.  It was also what I would view as a historical event for my small town because it was the 100th class to graduate from this school.  I graduated from this high school a number of years ago and it was a special treat to see that three of the graduating students were the sons and daughter of three of my own high school classmates. 

At the graduation ceremony, our high school principal brought up the catchy cliché, “You only live once.”  While this phrase may be overused or lost its meaning to some, our principal advised the students to keep the phrase in mind.  We do, in fact, have only one life to live.  We can only hope that as our children graduate high school, move on to college, join the work force or join the military, they have gained some insight as to what they would like to do with their futures.  Everyone makes mistakes and it is from those mistakes our children will hopefully learn, change and grow to eventually form the life they truly desire.  However, since what you do for a living should not define you, I’m sure all parents will agree the best result is that our children grow up to be good people who are happy with themselves and with their lives.
What goes through the minds of the graduating students as they throw their caps in the air?  Most adults remember this feeling, even if it is a bit fuzzy after many years.  At that moment it is pure excitement and the feeling of freedom from the binds of adolescence and high school rules.  Eventually, the thrill of feeling like an adult as they look towards the new adventures ahead is combined with the anxiety of what the future actually holds for them.  Some take it much better than others.  It’s hard for me to remember exactly how I felt but I do recall looking forward to college while I also felt some anxiety at leaving behind what was so familiar.  It was a sad day to think I would no longer have regular contact with many friends I had known since grade school.  High school classmates, especially in small schools, are much like a family.  You might not see them for a long while but when you do finally hook up, there is a familiarity which makes overdue visits effortless.    

The high school students who graduate will receive many words of wisdom and advice from those who care and hope to make life decisions easier for them.  These newest members of adulthood will listen to who they trust and heed the words that make sense to them at that time but they still have to trudge forward in their own way.  Some will immediately excel, others will falter, and mistakes will almost certainly be made.   Most importantly, from my perspective, I hope each student will live their life to the best of their ability, find what makes them happy, and treat others with the respect each of us deserves. 
While advice and wisdom will run rampant during each stepping stone in our lives, there is no denying we only live once.  Based on that fact, we should always do our best to make it count.

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