Yeah, I went to a lame Billy Joel lyric for the title. Forgive me. I’m a New Yorker (transplanted Bostonian) but at the core a New Yorker and we’ve all had our Billy Joel moments.
Today I went to a graduation at Boston University for a friend’s sister. It was a long ceremony so I had a lot of time to think about how many times I’ve sat in the same circumstances. My first graduation was the one from sixth grade. Then I went to a graduation in 1994 for the class graduating before mine a year later. Oops, revealed my age. Anyway, that was the graduation when I heard the Billy Joel song in the title. Yeah, I guess it is a really on the nose graduation song, but somehow it fit that moment. Somehow Billy Joel fit that mid-1990s suburban New York environment I was in.
The next graduation I attended was my graduation from high school. I guess I was kind of disappointed that they didn’t play the Billy Joel song. It was kind of cold and our graduation speaker was an insurance salesman from Ohio. God love you Doug Ahrenberg, wherever you are. I’d been ready for high school to be over since day one of junior high school. The class will left me a smile, so I flashed a big one that day.
After that I had my college graduation and I was pretty happy at that one. I had plans (some of which worked out and others that did not) but it was a happy graduation. My parents said a guy kept yelling out “Raoul” next to them the whole time. Generally it was a good time. They played Green Day’s “Time of Your Life” at the ceremony. Now at the time Green Day was kind of this stoner band and them playing it at the graduation was kind of crazy and radical. Now I guess it is standard graduation fare.
Next up, I had my graduation from graduate school one. That was a hard one because I was quite upset that I had finished graduate school one without actually figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. Nobody played any good songs at that one and not the Billy Joel one. The day was the hottest on record and there were three hours of speeches and convocations and conferments and other big words.
I thought about all of these today. I thought about how similar they all were in how the speakers always wish the graduates best of luck with their lives, warn them that failures lie ahead and to pursue their passions. I guess I’m at the point now when I can actually judge if what graduation speakers say is actually going to happen. I mean I guess it is trivial, being that most people forget what they say a day after they say it. Or more accurately, an hour. I sat today and thought “yeah, figure out what you love. God, that takes a long time.” Failure. Ah, failure. Welcome that into your life. You will fail repeatedly, many times in many arenas, but somehow you will stay alive and keep going.
Like I said, the ceremony was long and I guess I had a lot of time to think. My own graduation from graduate school two is coming up in six months. I’m not sure if I am going to even go but an even bigger question is what am I going to do after? I had thought it was all laid out for me before I started. College instructor position for the next 100 years and then retirement but now I am thinking differently and have different plans. Or at least some kind of nebulous ideas of different plans. I guess that is something else for those graduation speakers. Life will take unbelievable twists and turns. But you’ll survive.
Congratulations class of 2015. These are the times to remember and I hope you had the time of your life. HA. Two song lyrics. And they say there aren’t any original ideas left in the world.
Let’s celebrate with our graduates: