A few thoughts for graduates

I suspect we may be able to find more than one, but let’s suppose we could find only one thing that everyone reading this has in common. Every one of us, from the youngest to the oldest, has hopes and wishes for the future. There may be absolutely nothing that we can do to make some of them come true no matter how hard we might try. There’s nothing wrong with wishing for those things, but we ought not to spend too much time thinking about them either. Instead, we should focus on those things which we can influence.

I have always been a fan of Mr. Rogers. He had this to say about wishes: “What makes the difference between wishing and realizing our wishes? Lots of things, of course, but the main one, I think is whether we link our wishes to our active work. It may take months or years, but it’s far more likely to happen when we care so much that we’ll work as hard as we can to make it happen. And when we’re working toward the realization of our wishes, some of our greatest strengths come from the encouragement of people who care about us.”

Mr. Rogers hits a couple of very important points. First of all is our willingness to actively work toward the accomplishment of a goal or a wish. In “the real world” wishes only come true by hard work, dedication and self discipline. No matter how long it takes to make the wish come true, it is much more likely to come true when “we work as hard as we can to make it happen.”

The other important thing that Mr. Rogers said was that, “some of our greatest strengths come from them encouragement of people who care about us.” Never underestimate the importance of the people who care about you. The people who care about you are the people who will be there with you and for you through the rough times and through the good times. When you want to give up they’ll be there to help you keep going. When you reach the top they’ll be there to help you celebrate your success. When your success goes to your head they’ll be there to remind you where you came from. When you start to lose your temper they’ll help you stay cool. When you feel like you’ve reached the end of your rope and no one cares anymore they’ll be there to remind you otherwise.

We all have dreams and wishes. Some of them are more realistic than others, but what they all have in common is that we will have to work for them. Mr. Rogers also tells the story of wanting to learn to play the clarinet when he was eight or ten years old. “I just didn’t practice the clarinet,” he wrote, “so I didn’t learn. I think I wanted to learn by magic. I think that I had the idea that if I got the clarinet I would somehow know how to play it. But magic doesn’t work with learning, not with anything worthwhile.” Anything you’ll ever accomplish in life that is worth accomplishing will take hard work, self discipline and dedication. Don’t give up. Don’t stop dreaming. But don’t limit yourself to dreaming, either. Be willing to work to make your dreams come true. And don’t forget the people along the way who help you get there.

2 thoughts on “A few thoughts for graduates

  1. Happy birthday young man. Do I wish I were your age???? Yo bet I do, and like I learned watching Disneyland—if you wish long enough, wish strong enough, you soon will know, that wishing will make it so. We hope you have a great birthday and a really fruitful life.
    Dale and Ruth

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