What words can I give to the graduating class of 2014? It’s been a long time since I left school – almost 20 years, but I find it challenging to distill the collected experience of that time into a tonic of wisdom that would make sense to you – or would even have any relevance to your lives now. It is my firm belief that our desire for wise words at important times is a forlorn hope that we will hear something so powerful that it will change our lives, or affirm our principles, or be something for us to cling to in difficult times. While I am usually the first to acclaim the creative and changeable power of words, I will not patronize you by providing any such advice at this time. The reality is that words do not change lives. They inspire people to change lives, that much is true, but the words themselves are only as powerful as the action they inspire.
Instead, I will simply offer you the benefit of hindsight from my experiences for you to ponder or ignore as you choose. While hindsight may be perfect, my own life has not, and I very much doubt that your future will be either. When you take the time to look back on your own lives, much as I am doing now, you might be horrified at the detritus and wreckage of missed opportunities and broken relationships that you leave behind. It is natural to remember these times more than our joys and successes. I know I do. But comfort yourself with this thought: other people’s lives has the same flotsam and jetsam, the same sadnesses and regrets. It is the nature of life to be essentially chaotic. The choices you make are always influenced by the vagaries of time, space and chance.
So what insurance can one find against such a withering dictum of probability? I’ve always found a stoic demeanor and steadfast determination will hold you in good shape regardless of the challenge you are facing. I’m conscious that this is not exactly a handy guide to success but these other snippets of advice are purely my own whimsical delights in a life that I still struggle to make sense of.
1. Travel. Few things in life are as humbling as being in a foreign environment. And travel immediately puts you beyond your comfort zone. This is how you grow.
2. Be open to love. Realize also that you will have your heart broken. Embrace this, because being cruelly treated by someone who you care for is as much a part of the human experience as being in love in the first place.
3. Read. Whether it’s nothing more than football scores or magazine articles, reading stimulates the mind like nothing else.
4. Celebrate. Even if it is nothing more than the fact that the weather is wonderful, enjoy the moment. Find goodness and joy in the smallest of things.
5. Get involved. This is probably the closest that I get to philosophy. The most important question that we will face in life is not ‘what is the meaning of life?’ but ‘what makes life meaningful?’ That is a question for you to answer but I wager that you’ll find that answer amongst others like you. Join clubs and associations. Go to museums and parties and football games.
- Taking the plunge with social media in the classroom.
- Updates to the site