You’ll get over it soon enough.
A BLAST FROM THE PAST
This column originally published May 21, 2007
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A few words for the graduates
You're young and you're graduating, and you may feel like you’re on top of the world right now.
You’ll get over it soon enough.
You may be heading off to college, or perhaps you’re joining the workforce right away.
Or maybe you intend to begin leading a life of crime.
Whatever you do, give it your best shot always. The world of academia needs bright, young minds with fresh ideas. The workforce needs new faces and renewed energy. And although crime is never a good thing, it would be refreshing to have some unique, creative crimes committed, as opposed to the boring old crimes we’ve all gotten used to. Just keep your crimes out of my neighborhood, and we’ll get along OK.
For those of you entering the workforce, either now or a few years from now after college, you’ll probably at some point come into job competition with some people of my generation. Here’s a tip you can use to your advantage — remember that many of the people from my generation are very afraid of the people from your generation.
That’s right. The low pants make us nervous, we wish you’d pull them up. Also, all the piercings make us very uneasy.
Also, we don’t understand all the gadgets, and we have trouble working them. You have cell phones, camera phones, Blackberries, iPods, and lots of other things that we don’t understand. We’re not exactly sure what a text message is. To us, a “download” meant something very, very different than what it means to you.
It’s all pretty intimidating to us. All we had was a digital watch that was also a calculator. We planned on using our digital calculator-watches to cheat on our math tests, but most of us couldn’t figure out exactly how they worked, and those of us who could were thwarted by the fact that our watch-calculators made little beeping sounds whenever the buttons were touched. We were so busted.
So at first, we didn't believe you when you told us that you could fit something like 80,000 songs inside one little tiny piece of plastic. Now, we don’t understand why you would choose to use the worst 80,000 songs imaginable to prove it.
Come on, 80,000 songs inside one thin little piece of plastic and no old Van Halen tunes? Not one Paul Simon track? How about a little Warren Zevon or Jimmy Buffet?
Anyway, as you live your life, always be kind, courteous, reliable and respectful to those around you. This way you’ll make a lot of friends. Then, when you go through some tough times, you can move in with some of these friends, instead of moving back with your parents, who won’t want you anymore.
Your parents will instead want to party like crazy, the way they did before you came along and screwed everything up for them.
Keep in mind that your parents still love you and they’ll miss you a bunch — and they’ll even probably let you move back in with them if you really have to — but you will be cramping their style.
Speaking of partying, you probably shouldn’t drink, but at some point you probably will. If you do, don’t ever drink and drive, and try not to drink too much. Some members of my generation drank too much at times, and strange things happened. Sometimes some of us woke up to find tattoos on our bodies that weren’t there the day before. In your case, I suppose it’s more likely that you’ll wake up to find that some of your tattoos are missing.
Either way, try your best not to make this kind of behavior a habit.
There are a few other things we need to tell you.
First of all, we’re sorry about the mess that’s been made of the environment. The health care system is kind of messed up, too. These things were already pretty screwed when we got here, but we haven’t done all that much to fix them, and we feel bad about that. We’ll keep trying, though. Maybe you can help us.
Oh, and the wars. We’re sorry about them. We probably should have done more to prevent them from happening. Some of your bravest friends might have to fight in them, even though they aren't your fault. Some of our most courageous friends have fought in them, are fighting in them, and are dying in them. The same goes for every generation that came before us. It’s a terrible cycle, and we're sorry we couldn't break it.
Maybe you guys are the ones who are smart enough to put a stop to them once and for all.
Of course, that seems to be an awful heavy burden to place on your shoulders right away, so go ahead and put it on the backburner. You can save the world another day. Until then, try to enjoy yourself as much as you can.
Someone once said that we’re all here on this Earth to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.
So laugh through the tears when you can, it feels good. And don’t be afraid to cry when you watch a sad movie. It feels good, too.
When you’re content, take a minute to appreciate it, and say it out loud, so that others can appreciate it, too. Just pause and say something like, “This is nice, isn't it?” You’ll be surprised at how good it makes everyone around you feel.
When something was fun, say, “That was fun!” It’ll help you remember how much fun it really was.
Once in a while, tell a friend you love them. Take a moment to make a stranger smile. Write an awful poem and pretend it’s important literature, then laugh at it.
Never forget where you came from, but never let where you came from be an excuse for anything.
You’ll be fine. We’ll be pulling for you.
We’re all in this together.