It’s the end of school and high school graduation is all around us. I remember the feeling of anxiety as I prepared for graduation in May, 1969 from W.W. Samuell High School in Dallas. It was a time of great hopes and dreams about what we, the seniors, were going to become.
Little did any of us know the roads we would travel to get where we are now some 48 years later. I was hoping to spend one last summer playing baseball since I had missed two years due to a back injury and I would also work to earn some money before I left for Howard Payne College in Brownwood. My plans were to get my degree and head to seminary on the way to becoming a pastor or evangelist. I got my teaching certification in hopes I could teach, coach and preach the word. It’s ironic how life gets in the way of the best made plans.
At the time I did not realize I would never see some of my classmates again. We all went our separate ways and a few of us have hung on to our friendships over the years. My three closest friends are from my school days. One of those friends, Terry Crocker, passed away in 2013. It was while preparing his eulogy I really began to ponder life and the detours we all have taken off the path we set out for ourselves.
I read and listen to this year’s crop of seniors and see and feel their hopes to become college grads, nurses, doctors, teachers, lawyers and so many other wonderful occupations. They have their lives set before them.
I want to tell them some things are not going to turn out quite the way you imagined. There will be a lot of happy times, but there will be sorrow and sad times too. It takes living life and learning from your mistakes as well as your successes. I want them to cherish the moments they have had growing up and the friendships they have made.
I want them to never forget where they come from. Now, at 66, I spend a lot of time in thought about the things I didn’t do. I think about my bucket list, knowing I probably won’t experience everything listed. In the 48 years since my graduation, I still have things I want to accomplish, things I feel like I must do just so I can say I lived to do it.
Do I regret some of those things which have happened in my life? Of course I do, but you can drive yourself crazy playing the “what if” game. Would I like to have back those 20 years I spent in addiction? I believe so, but on the other hand, I am still alive to share with others and hopefully help them through the maze and haze of addiction.
My message to seniors today is simple. Go after your dreams, but never forget where you come from. Don’t forget those who sacrificed for you to have a better life. Tell your parents, grandparents and others who have been important to you, thank you. Don’t be afraid to step out into the world and take on new horizons. Don’t fear the unknown.
Live your dreams, don’t just talk about them.
Of course, had I lived my ultimate dreams, I would be somewhere in New Mexico on the side of a mountain living in a hippie commune trying to save the planet and its people from ultimate destruction.
Instead of that mountain, it’s a little house on the west side of Lake Fork shared with my beautiful bride, writing for a local newspaper and hoping I am serving the community I live in to the best of my ability. And that’s okay, I am happy and that is the most important thing in life.
High school seniors, do something in life which makes you happy, not rich. Learn how to be rich in ways other than money and you will be greatly rewarded.