Platitudes are plentiful this time of year for those about to receive a diploma – Follow your dreams. Avoid big credit card debt. Start a savings account. Be true to yourself. You probably will not pay much attention to most of the commencement addresses you hear. I do not remember any of the words of wisdom addressed to me on those occasions. I should have listened.
You will make mistakes. You will not always spend wisely. You will get distracted, seduced even, by new adventures, new scenery, new relationships, new ideas, no more homework and papers to write, no more nagging parents. No more asking anyone for permission. For a while there will be the security blanket of knowing Mom or Dad are still around to throw you a rope if you fall in too deep a pit. Enjoy, relish those few brief years. Reality will come soon enough. Are you listening, snowflakes?
If you have never taken a civics course, put that near the top of your to-do list. If you have no idea what the Constitution says or how our government works, you will never become a productive citizen. It is not about “every man for himself”. And, screaming, rock-throwing, flag-burning protests bedecked with obscene banners are not proud examples of good citizenship.
Eat healthy. I know. I know ! That sounds too much like Mom is still nagging. But it really is important. It does not mean you cannot have beer and pizza with friends on Friday night. Once in a while. Put a cooking class on your list if you have not already had one. Learning to peel a potato and scramble an egg will save you thousands in the long run. Avoiding the need for prescription drugs will save you thousands in the long run. Knowing how to change the oil in your vehicle, mow the grass, sew on a missing button, use a hammer, pliers, and screwdriver, fix a leaky faucet, change a flat tire, paint a wall, plant a garden… - will save you thousands in the long run.
Do not stop asking questions. Don't stop reading, learning. Don't stop swimming and playing tennis and walking… Don't stop sending Happy Mother's Day cards. Do not be afraid to ask for help, take a risk, admit you were wrong, take a stand for what you believe in, travel to unknown places and ideas, speak your mind, speak the truth, shed a tear, say I love you….
All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten
by Robert Fulghum
Most of what I really need
To know about how to live
And what to do and how to be
I learned in kindergarten.
Wisdom was not at the top
Of the graduate school mountain,
But there in the sand pile at Sunday school.
These are the things I learned:
Don't hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don't take things that aren't yours.
Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life -
Learn some and think some
And draw and paint and sing and dance
And play and work every day some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world,
Watch out for traffic,
Hold hands and stick together.
Be aware of wonder.
Keep the faith. And if you do not have one, consider searching. Faith truly can be a comfort when you wander through the inevitable valleys of your journey. And enhance your joy as you ascend the mountains.
Happy trails !
Peace be with you.
(Susan Ruland is a near 40 year resident of Heber Springs. She contributes “Susan Says” each week and can be reached at email@example.com.)