Excuse me. Yes, you on the third row. The tassel on your mortar board is dangling in front of you like a carrot on a stick.
I’m also talking to you, over there getting ready to take the scariest 37 steps of your life as you walk across that stage to receive your high school diploma.
It’s graduation day.
Your commencement speakers have earned the honor badges of valedictorian and salutatorian. They will have advice as you turn this page of your life and start an exciting new chapter.
Please allow me a few extra minutes of your time. It is by no means a complete list, but I have 10 pearls of wisdom to string around your neck.
If you remember five, I’ll be happy. If you take seven with you, I’ll be proud. If you embrace all of them, you can change the world.
1. Thank your teachers.
They inspired you. They nurtured you. You are the sum of many parts. One day, you will be asked to name those who have had the most influence on your life. A teacher will be near the top.
2. Class is not dismissed after graduation day.
Learn something new every morning, afternoon and night. Fill yourself with wonder. Be curious. Devote as much time to reading as you do to eating. A friend sent this wisdom to her granddaughter, who is graduating from college: “You spend three years learning to read, and the rest of your life reading to learn.”
3. Look people in the eye.
We live in a world of disconnect. This is the best way to plug in and play. It’s like holding hands with someone’s face.
4. Pay it forward.
You’ve heard this before. It won’t hurt to hear it again. At some point in your life, somebody will do something for you that you will never be able to repay. Show your gratitude by helping someone else.
5. Brighten your corner.
Wherever you go and whoever you are with, you are in charge of your own happiness. Spread some sunshine.
6. Broaden your horizons.
Travel. Go places. But don’t be so focused on the destination that you miss the journey. Some folks can take a trip around the world and never see a thing. Others can walk around the block and see the whole world.
7. Life is not a hashtag.
It cannot be reduced to a Facebook post, status update, emoticon, LOL or OMG. And if no one can understand your 140-character message, you have failed to communicate. You’re out there floating around in your tin can like Major Tom in “Space Oddity.”
If you do, you will live longer. Laughter massages your insides and strengthens your immune system. It has been proven in medical and scientific journals. I keep a scripture from Proverbs 17:22 on my desk: “A joyful heart is good medicine.” So get out there and giggle.
9. Plant a tree.
It’s a promissory note. It means you believe in tomorrow. The Greeks had a saying that “a society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”
10. Wag more. Bark less.
Every day we have a choice to either build folks up or tear them down. W.T. Anderson was editor and publisher of the Macon newspapers for more than 30 years. “Let us always endeavor to make people and not to break them,” he said. I hold that one close.
There are your 10 pearls. The world is now your oyster.
Reach Gris at 744-4275 or firstname.lastname@example.org.