Class of 1993…
Wow. I was only 17 when I graduated, more than half a lifetime ago. Have I changed? Sure. Has everyone else? Absolutely. But under the skin there is still that fundamental spark that made us unique. Many of our classmates were unable to attend, which only served to highlight the absence of social divide that was so prevalent in our youth.
Once upon a time, intelligence was measured by five of the first six letters of the alphabet. Test scores, homework, posters, projects… everything was subject to evaluation. Now, I see that those letters and percentages really have nothing to do with genuine intelligence. Your choices, and how you handle the consequences, are the only true measurement of intelligence, learning, and resulting wisdom.
If you huff and puff and blow your house down, with your spouse inside, don’t be surprised if that creates some lasting turbulence in your life. Do the crime, serve the time. Remove the concept of rewards from your yes/no answers and watch the rewards increase ten-fold. You make hundreds of conscious choices every day, and thousands of which you aren’t entirely aware. If you are harboring a grudge, it only poisons you. If you are head over heels in love, but keep it to yourself, then you consign your heart to a world of suffering and silence.
It is vital to understand how even your subconscious choices, no matter how minor, add up to create a visible persona. Smile, or not? Say hello, nod your head, or look away? Stand up straight or slouch on your couch? It really is no different than grains of sand. Just a few, and you can shake out your shoe. A few million is a sandbox. A trillion trilion grains builds a coastline and increases property value.
Every action has a reaction, but sometimes it has two, ten, or hundreds of reactions. Just bring up politics in a crowded room and watch people who agree on the fundamental issue bicker about the details. See opposites debate highly flammable issues and walk away angry, red in the face, and a bit sweaty. Everything we all do has consequences, and those consequences affect many more decisions. It is a never-ending cycle of turbulence, where the storms come and go without warning. The only pattern is the consistent complexity. Finding just the right spot to step in and create change is one of the biggest challenges of life. Which battles do you fight? Which do you save for later? Which ones do you just concede and leave behind?
So as I look back at my memories of the high school years, I recognize that no other person shares the same memories and perspectives that I have. Nor should they. What you take away from your life experience is your business, and your choice. Choose wisely, leave the weight behind, and move forward with that which lifts you up. What exactly was high school? Just a sandbox for us to play in, make mistakes, and learn from them. It wasn’t about the scores or the grades, that was just designed to give structure to our fumbling adolescence.
I am looking forward to see what we learn in the next decade, both through triumph and… kinda oops. Make every moment count not just for you but everyone around you.