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Graduation: so recent, yet so long ago

June 5, 2012 by Mark McGlothlen 

The Constantine High School class of 1992 hit a milestone this past Thursday as we “celebrated” 20 years to the day that we graduated from high school. While it doesn’t seem like 20 years could possibly have passed already, at the same time it feels like a lifetime ago.

Today, several of my former classmates and I are making plans for our big reunion in September and while it will be nice to hopefully see most of those faces from the past, many of whom I spent 13 years with in school, I just can’t help but remember an incident that occurred at our first reunion 10 years ago.

While sitting in a group of about 10 people, one former classmate went down the line, shaking hands and saying hello to each person. When he got to me, he simply passed me without even an acknowledgment. I was not surprised. We were never “friends” in school, but we obviously knew each other. But for some reason, during school, he just didn’t like me, nor did I make an effort either. So the cold shoulder, after all these years, was kind of shocking as my hand was out, waiting to say hello.

What makes it even more interesting is that we didn’t have a fight, there was no grudge between us, but yet, 10 years after high school, he just seemed to revert back to those days when we roamed the hallways of high school.

I don’t want to sound like I am whining; because it really doesn’t impact me other than I was surprised that it happened. Recalling that moment reminded me of the song “Sunscreen” that was released back in the late 90’s. The song, which was derived from a column written by Mary Schmich, who said she wrote it as a commencement speech that, she would give, if she were asked to give one.

I listened to music producer Baz Luhrmann’s version of her “speech” yesterday and I was amazed at how powerful her words truly are and how I wish the youth of today (and even some adults) would take those words to heart.

Here are a few examples.

“Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.”

“Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.”

“Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.”

“Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.”

“Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.”

“Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.”

“Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.”

“Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.”

“Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.”

Not necessarily words to live by, but certainly food for thought in my opinion.

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