An Open Letter to the Graduating Class of 2021
“You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way.”
(Jonathon Livingston Seagull)
As I’m writing to you today, I’m just sitting here on the beach, on the outer banks of North Carolina.
Thinking. . .
It’s a bright and sunny day with a cool breeze, my toes are buried in the sand and I’m surrounded by all kinds of seabirds. If you’re a bird lover it’s a great place to be. These birds called ‘yellowlegs’ are standing like sentries at the surfs edge, watching for critters to gobble up. Seagulls are flying all around me, and pelicans are dive-bombing for fish, smacking straight down into the ocean headfirst!
Best of all, there’s a cute little sand crab about 10 feet away. His eyes are like two little round saucers, perched on top of two long stems.
He’s cute, and very shy, and I’m pretty sure he wishes I would just go away!
I see him peeping up out at me from his little hole, and cautiously scooting out. Then, whenever I move even one little finger, he just zzzzips back into his hole!
I’ve named him “mr. skittles!”
I can just picture him holding a tiny little cappuccino in the morning, getting ready for his day!
When I was a child I spent many summers here on the outer banks, vacationing with my family. Names like ‘Manteo’ and ‘Wanchese’ were household words for me as a kid.
I grew up collecting shells at Nags Head, and scampering around the Hatteras lighthouse. Skipping stones on the Roanoke. Exploring the wonders of the tidepools.
Everywhere falling in love with nature..
Now, as an adult, I’m reading that the oceans are threatened by acid rain. Scientists are telling us that the sea levels are rising, due to global warming and melting icecaps. The coral reefs of the world are slowly dying away, and on top of all this, experts are predicting that by the year 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.
People who own stocks in these toxic industries want to emphatically deny that any of this is taking place.
As I sit here gazing out over the ocean, and feeling the amazing life energy emanating from it, I’m just sitting here asking myself,-
“What are we doing here??”
A Science Class Experiment.
Nature is full of examples. Here is one of them:-
Bacteria are one-celled (unicellular) microorganisms that can only be seen with a microscope, but as they reproduce they can form rapidly into huge, fuzzy colonies that can be easily seen with the naked eye. The purpose of doing this science experiment is to demonstrate to students how quickly bacteria can reproduce, in a geometric progression, when one cell splits into two cells through a process called binary fission.
This process of growth can begin quickly,- in as little as 20 minutes!
The way the experiment works is that, under the care of a qualified instructor, sterile powdered agar is mixed with water and nutrients, and heated and poured into an empty petri dish. Then a source of bacteria is added. The most common method of adding bacteria is to place a dirty coin right in the middle of the dish. The bacteria will start to grow immediately, and over a period of days the students can watch as the dish fills up with the fuzzy bacteria.
As the nutrients are devoured, the fuzzy bacteria completely fill the dish. And then finally, when the nutrients are depleted, the colony dies off.
And that’s it.
That’s the end of the experiment!
I’m just a simple kind of guy, asking a simple question,-
Are we no better than a dish full of mindless bacteria?
Gobbling up our resources?,..
And expanding until there is nothing left?
And yet here we are…
Metaphorically speaking,- the people of my generation, just like every generation before us, are spending our days sitting on a set of railroad tracks with our heads down.
We are looking at our phones, checking our graphs, making our retirement plans, paying our bills, mowing our lawns and trimming our hedges, and all-in all, doing well in keeping up with the Joneses!
We see the headlight from a train approaching in the distance, but we are playing games on the train tracks, camping out, and carrying on as if that train is never going to get here…
It’s like we care about our kids, and ‘maybe’ even our grandkids,- but our vision doesn’t extend much further than that..
We keep our eyes focused on the path right at our feet, instead of looking up, and looking to the future..
I’m posing the question to you,- will your generation be the same as mine?
Or will your generation be the ones to make the change?
I’m closing my eyes, feeling the sunshine on my face, and hearing the voices of the birds in the air, and the sounds of the waves breaking in front of me,-
And I’m reflecting on the awesome natural beauty of this world,..
And I’m reflecting on how precious every moment of this life is,…
Hearing these words in my mind,-
“From ashes to ashes, and dust to dust…”
Once upon a time, long ago, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine about the trials and tribulations of being a parent, when this friend says to me,- “It’s not how much money you spend on your daughter that counts:- its how much time you spend with her!”
That’s what kids remember the most!
And I couldn’t agree more..
The lesson I want to bring to you from this blog is that time is the most valuable thing that any of us have. God promises us nothing, but the here, and now.
Whether its for your family, or your friends, or your classmates, or your teammates, or even if it’s a customer you are taking care of at your job,-
In moving forward, my wish for you today is that you will always remember, at every moment of your life, that time is the most precious gift that any of us have to offer!
Please don’t ever forget it!
If there is nothing else you take away from this, feel free to take this last bit of advice, and put it in your back pocket!
Save it for a rainy day!
What I’m asking you to do, is slow down. Take a deep breath and enjoy every moment!
Put everything on pause, and take a moment now to contemplate your relationship with this world and your life, and what you want it to be.
Cherish your time.
Cherish every single day.
Master it!,- and make use of every single moment!
Take the time, to say hello to a friend, or a stranger, and ask them how they are doing. And then take the time to listen to their answer.
Take advantage of this time to learn a musical instrument.
Take the time every day to exercise. Take a run, walk, or a hike. Experience nature.
Start a blog!
Treat your body like it’s gold!
Take the time, to learn about the important issues of the day, and figure out how you can become part of the solution, instead of the problem.
Take the time, to give the gift of your time,- your single, most coveted and cherished item,- and figure out how you can give it to the lives of future generations.
And above all else,- don’t ever stop believing in yourself and your dreams!
Are you ready?
Believe in yourself!
This world is yours for the taking!
Ask yourself today,- “How will I make my mark?”
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”…