Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?
These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.
Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...
...seems to be working so far
Sunday, May 10, 2009
A guest speaker has an easier task, they can speak in a general sense, and give advice for the many. A parent has a much tougher job. What can they offer to their child that they haven't already said earlier on?
It's a puzzlement.
Often times the words that we share with a young, new graduate sound only like words to them, and their meaning is not heard. Pleasant words, in soft sounding sentences marked with what one should do, and not do are what we eventually share. We take those words from our life's experience in hopes they will make it easier for those embarking on their own road. We hope to save them some trouble along the way.
The more I have thought about just what to share with my graduate this year, the more I was troubled as to just what to say. One cannot just let an important event like this go by without some words of advice. The obvious always goes unsaid, but it is always good to say it aloud, too. Things like, "I am proud of you" is a definite. "Well done", can't be stressed enough. "This is only the beginning" is a classic, obvious remark, but what words can put all we want for them in the present, and in the future, into a small enough package that will stay with them, and guide them well?
The more I thought about it, the more I thought about what had guided me, and not so much what I have learned since that time. The words that I found that truly meant something were words I had known all my life, but their meaning had been a bit blurry much of the time, until I got to know them.
I don't want to sound all knowing, or like some "Oprah-esque" sage on Route 148, or even Dr. Phil like. This is just me.
The first word of advice I want to give my graduate is: Live.
Pretty simple really, you're already doing it, but living is more than breathing, eating a meal, going to work, coming home, and going out on the weekend. Living is waking before dawn on a Saturday, driving to Vermont, and taking a hot air balloon ride to nowhere, and take in the morning sun as it lights up the fog along the fields and church steeples. Living is taking a risk. Going for a job in another part of the country, far from where you are comfortable, and learning a whole new culture. That is living. Taking care of yourself is the foundation of living. If you want to continue to live, then it's simple, take care of yourself.
Respect is the second word.
First, one must respect oneself. If not, then it is hard to respect another. Start at home first. Be true to yourself, trust your decisions, and then you can begin to respect others. Respect who they are, what they believe in, where they are from, and what they do. You can always disagree with everything about a person, but disagree, and debate respectfully.
Love comes next. Without it, nothing else is going to fall into place. You have to love yourself in order to live, and to respect yourself. Love others as you would want to be loved, and have special loves for special times, events, and people. Love what you do, or find something else, otherwise you won't respect yourself, and you won't be able to live to the fullest.
See where this is all going?
They are all connected. One does not exist without the other. An imbalance occurs, and life is like a ceiling fan out of kilter. The years will progress, but you as a person will be stuck, or barely moving.
Trust is another word that must be stressed. When you are out there living to the fullest, and loving what you do, and respecting those around you, you must trust your instincts when you feel it is time to grow more, and just do it. You must also give your trust to those you hold close unconditionally. You can only take take that trust away if they return it to you worn and beaten. Then take it back, and respect yourself.
Faith. Have faith that you will achieve your goals. Have faith in your ideas, and that what you do will make a difference. Have faith in something larger than yourself, and rely on that faith to guide you. The more love, respect, and trust you show, the more your faith is at work.
And, finally, inspiration. Inspire others through who you are, and what you do, how you do it, and how you live. Look to other places and people for things that inspire you. Don't let your head go slack, feed it all the time with things that will inspire you to grow.
Those words, live, respect, love, trust, faith and inspiration will get you through all the growing pains you will have over an entire lifetime. There will be times that you will find it tough going because you have backed off on those words. Don't worry, they are always there, find them again, and move on. That is the one thing I can tell you from experience. No matter how well intentioned we are, we all hit bumps along the way, and the more we ignore the words, the longer we will be trying to get back on track with only one or two good wheels. Takes longer, the results are not the same, and we will become less happy about most everything.
Don't forget happiness. It is the word that you want everything else to lead to. Without it, you don't really have anything. That is your goal, for each day you are given, for the rest of your life, just be happy.
Happy life, my Graduate. Happy life.