On June 4th I will stand in front of the 2015 graduating class and for the 21st time hand out diplomas and heartfelt congratulations. But this time it's different, and a little bitter-sweet, but also exciting. This time, I'm saying goodbye. But not retiring. No, I'm graduating. After twenty years, I'm finally matriculating.
And leaving school behind after these many years I'll remember the three things I tell students.
First, that education is an ongoing process, and we are lifelong learners. At sixty, I have a few more years of learning ahead of me. And what is more exciting than the challenge of the unknown? Of seeing an obstacle and meeting it?
Second, that life is fluid and ever-changing. We need to appreciate the here and now. I've said that constantly, and now studying mindfulness, I am reminded of the importance of that philosophy. In the past I've had the graduating class rise and face their parents and family, hoping they'll realize how elusive this experience, and how it is gone before they can appreciate that. My parents are gone. And I wish I had walked in my own graduation those forty-two years ago. Forty-two years. But I didn't. I was a rebel and didn't understand what rite of passage I was forsaking. So this year, I will face my wife and smile, and raise my hand, and acknowledge what I should have those many years ago.
Third, I will embrace the importance of relationships. All are unique and we must accept people as they are and not as something we want them to be.
I'm graduating. I'm painting my car, driving through town and honking my horn, and I'm going to stay up all night and celebrate the passing of one phase of life and the arrival of another. After twenty years, I'm finally getting out of high school.