Graduation Part 2

16 Jun

As I washed dishes this morning, I thought about what I would say as a commencement speaker. The speaker last night, dressed, acted and sounded like Forest Gump. He advised them to lead a gump life by knowing that life was like a box of chocolate but that they could select which piece they wanted.  It was pretty good advice and presented with some flare. What would I say?

The analogy to the box of chocolate isn’t a bad one in either our speaker’s definition or the original which stated “you never know what you are going to get.” Because I love the sound and meanings of certain words, I might choose “Serendipity.” Your attitude will decide if the accidents in your life will be happy or unhappy and there will be accidents. Economies change, marriages start or dissolve, jobs are lost or new industries open up. You reach into that box of chocolates, make a selection and then discover it isn’t quite what you expected. Either we didn’t make the correct choice or circumstances intervene and forced a new choice. You are on an adventure that allows you to select another piece of chocolate. That is what your college degree provides – a new piece of chocolate.

At this point in my life I can step back and look at all of those chocolate pieces that have presented themselves. Some were by plan like working in a biology research lab with a biology degree while others are by making a choice along the way like owning a mortgage company or a Chinese restaurant. To my mother those seemed like irrational choices but to me they were serendipity.  They added to the complexity of my life, providing real world experiences to bring into the classroom. The decision to pursue my masters at a mature age of 55 let me pick a new piece of chocolate as a college professor. Serendipity was there with the selection of the positions in two very different colleges. Even my decision to retire was a happy accident based on the sale of land and the purchase of a cute little house in a far off land called Texas.

Now that I have surveyed the chocolate that I’ve eaten or spit out (who likes mushy centers?), I am delighted to discover there is another layer under the first! I have different expectation from the pieces here. The focus will no longer be on jobs and income. Instead each day will be a new piece; a new adventure that will be all mine.

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