As the summer of 2017 starts and schools end … I watch as the children of family and friends graduate and move on to next chapters in their lives.
I pause … and wonder what advice would I give to someone so fresh and new to the world? Their (hopefully) whole life ahead of them? See … my perspective has changed with cancer. A year ago I would not have thought to add “hopefully” to that sentence. Life is a such a precious gift that should never be wasted. Not one second.
If I was writing a commencement speech, what would I say?
To this generation before us:
Life is an empty book. Live your life as if you were going to write a best selling novel worthy of the highest literary awards. This is one book I recommend jumping ahead to the final chapter and starting there. What do you want those last pages to contain? Who do you want to be? Where do you want to go? And how will you get there? What do you want to accomplish?
Who are you?
The more you live, the more you will learn who you are. Find your inner voice and follow it. It doesn’t matter if the path changes. It will. Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans. Just stay strong and true to following your wandering path. Follow your heart.
Do you want to get to the end of the book and find you didn’t follow your dreams? You slept. You ate. You worked. You got stuck in traffic. But did you travel to far away places? Meet interesting people and collect friendships? Did you take photos of wonderful moments? Say thank you for that head rush. Did you apply for that job? Quit that job? Run up a mountain and white water raft down the falls? Did you fill your life with laughter and love? Did you dance? Catch the sun and the moon and the stars? Write people off at their lowest and you lower yourself. Everyone has a story. Those who don’t deserve you, lose you.
Collect love, memories, experiences … not cars, bills and stress. People and adventures add richness to your pages … not things.
Dare. Dare to dream. Dare to be first. Dare to try. Dare to live. Dare to love. Dare to travel. Dare to make a difference. Dare to be different. Dare to say no. Dare to say yes.
Do not be afraid to fail. Success is not built on the back of success … it’s built on the back of failure. Frustration. Catastropy. Rock bottom. It’s built with blood, sweat, tears and a pounding, living heart. Never give up, just adjust your sails and begin again. Fear is as debilitating as depression and anxiety. Be fearless.
Don’t make excuses. I’ve often told my son that he can blame me for one thing – and one thing only – then he has to get on with his life, own it and fix it. Blame leaves you motionless as a victim. Move forward as a warrior. And call your mother.
Take the time to find spirituality … in whatever form is meaningful to you. It provides guidance and comfort and a deeper meaning to life.
Cherish time. As you age, time speeds up. Faster and faster … until you hit some type of wall. Remember that time slips through your fingers. Time may feel linear but it isn’t. And it doesn’t loop. It can be over in a Split Second.
And last of all … leave this world better than you found it. Try to leave people less broken than you found them. Fix something … like a broken baby bird.
And rescue a dog.
Best wishes to all the new grads like Justin and Cayden!