This is the month of graduations – from elementary, from high school, from college. A time for celebrations galore: the graduates celebrate the completion of one phase of their formal studies, the parents celebrate the accomplishments of their anak, the teachers celebrate the closing of another school year, etc.
Our family is also celebrating. Our daughter Ruth’s youngest, the twins, Bernice and Brigette, graduated high school with honors and various medals. After the formal graduation, we all enjoyed a family dinner in Sta Rosa, Laguna, where Ruth and the children live. All her children and their spouses and their children were there! Plus some close family friends and the key teachers in the twins’ lives. Much fun, laughter, hugs, tears, memories, and plans for the future.
Some weeks ago one of the Philippine Star columnists Joanne Rae M. Ramirez quoted Mahatma Gandhi in her column: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” As she reminisced on her graduations, she focused on four signposts along her journey. I’d like to share them together with some of my own reflections as pointers for the next stages of your own life journeys.
Signpost number one is to enjoy whatever you decide to do. Ensnare your teenage dreams, bring them to fruition with enthusiasm and dedication. Yes, try out several things if you must, but remember to keep focused on your dream. When you like what you are doing, then it isn’t work at all. As Joanne commented, she has both a life and a living because she is now doing what she had always wanted to do, to write!
Signpost number two is related to signpost number one in that it encourages you to follow your heart and not allow any setbacks to derail you from your goal. I like to ask myself when something I don’t like comes along and disturbs me, what is this going to mean, how is this going to affect my life after five years? Then I am able to see that disturbance as only a small rock on the path of my life, and I move around it and venture on to bigger and better things.
Joanne’s signpost number three focuses on the “Policy of Nice”, of getting ahead in life without making enemies along the way. My mom drilled a simple verse into my young mind, a verse that emphasizes courtesy and politeness. It goes like this: Hearts like doors open with ease, to very simple little keys. And don’t forget that two of these are “I thank you” and “if you please”. Writer F. Scot Peck believes that courtesy is one of the qualities that should be used in identifying a progressive nation, community, or family. Sadly, this innate sense of courtesy seems to be increasingly lacking in the world today.
We must all do our homework in order to get ahead in life – signpost number four. Education, teachers and classes are not limited to the schools and universities. Graduation merely marks the entrance to new experiences, expanded horizons of things to know, and an ocean of opportunities. We can never learn too much. Even now in my senior years I am challenged to learn new technologies, like how to administer a website, when just a few years ago all I knew was the typewriter. The Lord delights in giving me new adventures to teach me new ways of looking at things, new competencies to struggle with, new lessons to understand and learn. And I welcome them as blessings to keep me from being bored.
Graduations are just a beginning – whether it is graduation from school, graduation from your job’s probationary status to full time, graduation from blessed singleness to marriage and family, graduation from youth to adulthood. Then there are graduations from sickness to health (or vice versa), graduations from beer barkadas to Christian community, graduations in the form of transfers from one province to another, from province to city, from seashore to mountains. In the Brotherhood, we have graduations from the BCLP (Brotherhood Christian Life Program) into service in community, graduation from the bondage of sin to the challenge of holiness, graduation from service in the chapter to service at regional and national level.
Whatever the graduation, we must always thank God that we haven’t graduated from Life (yet)!