Jon de Vos: Graduates: Don’t pay any attention to the gray-haired man behind the podium
May 16, 2008
Congratulations on your achievement. I’m sure you’re thinking that graduation is a milestone in your life as you begin to shape a world of your own fashion. Perhaps you see it as a hallmark of your education, marking a further step into adulthood.
Rather, it’s an opportunity for a bunch of crabby, gray-haired people to stand up in front of you and give advice on how to change a world that wouldn’t need changing if they hadn’t fouled it up beyond all recognition. Don’t pay any attention to them.
Unlike what they will tell you, the future ahead will mostly resemble a choice of restaurants. On the one hand, there’s Joe’s Gizzard City in Potterville, Mich. It’s the type of place where, if you asked for a deep-fried Caesar Salad, Joe would scratch his head and wonder why it wasn’t already on the menu, next to the deep-fried cheesecake, Oreos and ice cream sandwich ” all nicely beer-battered and fried to a golden brown. Joe’s signature dish is a deep-fried, one-third pound hamburger with all the trimmings. I’m not suggesting you run right out with your new-found freedom and try one, but young arteries are resilient and it doesn’t hurt to know such things are out there. However, it’s also no coincidence that the average patron can hold their own on the scale with a Buick Park Avenue.
Perhaps your tastes will run more to the Green Life Evolution Center in Blue Lake, Calif., where you can order a small Carrot Juice with an organic Mint-Celery Infusion.
It’s the type of place where the very mention of Joe’s Gizzard City would bring on a cholesterol-induced cardiac event. The average patron of the Evolution Center is an arrogant, self-centered, insufferable jerk ” but thin. The point is that a dazzling array of choices will soon become yours alone to make. Be sure you make them based upon your own tastes and desires without regard for other’s urging and beliefs about how you should live your life.
Unfortunately, you may have noticed that the world you’re inheriting is not in the best of shape. It’s too bad that wishing won’t make it better, but it won’t, so don’t. You’ll have to take action if you’re going to salvage the best of what remains of what life offers. Fortunately, it still offers a lot. Who can deny the technological advances like freeze-dried ice cream. It may help your perspective to understand that yours is not the first generation to deal with tribulation. For example, not so long ago, civilization was faced with Doo Wop. You cannot imagine the pain your parents endured
dancing back in 1982 to the Capri’s, “The Morse Code of Love”, with lyrics that went:
“Dit dot ditty dit dot a ditty ditty,
Dit dot ditty dit dot a ditty ditty,
Dit dot ditty dit dot a ditty ditty,
Dit dot ditty, Baby come home to me”
You have no idea of the hardships we faced daily, unimaginable rigors like unpasteurized milk, no Homeland Security, oil companies struggling to keep the wolves away, mortgage rates that didn’t adjust, and airline food, to name just a few.
We did all this in the belief we were leaving the world better than we found it. You’ll be the judge of how successful we were.
In closing, I’d like to wish you the best of luck and in the immortal words of Tiny Tim, “Come tiptoe through the tulips with me.” Oh, wait, not that one, the earlier Tiny Tim, the one that said, “God bless us, one and all.”
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