This is a month of transition and new beginnings. Since my last writing in this space, we have seen a number of our young adults graduate from both college and high school. That is an exciting time in the life not only of a family, but the community that has helped encourage and support those heading into a new chapter of life. It is a time filled with excitement, wonder, nervous energy, and a few tears (both of joy and sadness).
Often at graduations we are regaled with stories of how we can find ourselves in this vast world. There are frequent references to Dr. Seuss, specifically Oh, The Places You’ll Go or how the most important thing we can do is to make our bed every day. It seems that most speakers are trying to emphasize that the individual has all the choices in the world available to them and that the world is their oyster so go out and conquer it on your own.
But, do we really discover ourselves alone? Do we really conquer the world and succeed as a lone wolf? Possibly, but most of us need a community surrounding us. A community that not only encourages and supports us along the way, but one that also helps us figure out the path upon which we should trod.
Fred Rogers, yes the one and only Mister Rogers, had a habit of giving a different kind of commencement speech that speaks to everyone and acknowledged the importance we all have in the lives of those we encounter each and every day. According to Mister Rogers, we naturally support others “because deep down we know that what matters in this life is much more than winning for ourselves. What really matters is helping others win, too, even if it means slowing down and changing our course now and then.”
By helping others to win at life, we also discover a great deal about ourselves, sometimes in a surprising way. Again, back to Mister Rogers, “there's a part of all of us that longs to know that even what's weakest about us can ultimately count for something good. It's a miracle when we finally discover whom we're best equipped to serve, when we can best appreciate the unique life we've been given.” Discovering our true path isn’t something that one can fully discover individually. We need to help others and have others help us to discover where we are best equipped to serve and fully embrace the unique life we are given.
In honor of this, I leave you this month the way Mister Rogers ended a great many of his public appearances:
Anyone who has ever been able to sustain a good work has had at least one person - and often many - who believed in him or her. We just don't get to be competent human beings without many different investments from others.
I'd like to give you all an invisible gift; a gift of silence to think about those who nourish you at the deepest part of your being - anyone who has ever loved you and wanted what was best for you in life. Some of those people may be right here today. Some may be far away, some may even be in heaven; but if they've encouraged you to come closer to what you know to be essential about life, I'd like you to have a silent minute to think of them.
Whomever you've been thinking about: just imagine how grateful they must be that at this extra special moment in your life, you're remembering them with such thanksgiving.
One minute. I’ll watch the time.
Blessings - Chaps