Writer’s Block: To the Class of 2017

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

Congrats, Class of 2017! You’ve done it. You’ve arrived at graduation day. You’ve got your cap and gown, your stoles and cords, maybe even a class ring. Your family, friends and teachers are ready to cheer you on as you cross the stage this weekend and cross the tassel from one side of your mortar board to the other, diploma in hand.

There are few pursuits in life which require more than a decade of your time and dedication.

Some people may work in a single profession or career their entire adult life, but more often than not,  people will reinvent their career trajectories once or twice (or more!) before it comes time for that retirement party.

Hobbies come and go. But, even lifelong hobbies sometimes get put to the side for a month or a year before being picked back up again. And it’s rare for a hobby to consume the majority of your day, every day.

No, there are few pursuits in life that require such undivided attention and focus like pursuing your education. Whether you got your start in kindergarten or pre-K, what follows from that first day of school are at least a baker’s dozen worth of years inside a classroom.

Over that time period, you have been building up your knowledge, adding layer upon layer to the things you know. With a little luck and a lot of hard work you’ve become inquisitive, critically thinking young adults. You’ve gone from learning how to recognize the letters of the alphabet to being able to craft those words into an expression of ideas, or mathematical equations, even into representations of music and art.

Sometimes it seems like school is just the thing you have to do. It’s what everyone does and you know you’re supposed to go, so you do. It simply is. But, when you stop to think about it for a moment, here you are, 18 years old. You’ve been in school for more than three-fourths of your life so far. Perhaps you haven’t quite realized it, but you’ve just accomplished something amazing. Something indeed worthy of celebration and congratulations.

But, just like following a recipe — where you have to chop vegetables and measure ingredients before you can really start cooking — all that time spent at your desks, lab tables, gyms and band halls has been the “prep” time. Now begins a whole new type of education.

Whether you’re heading off to college, a career in the military, or into the workforce, now comes the truly exciting, exhilarating kind of learning. Now’s the time you get to go exploring the world for yourself. Truth be told, I envy you all just a bit because you’re about to embark on an adventure with a myriad number of avenues before you.

I have one wish for you as you take the first steps in this new chapter of your lives. I wish that you always retain a childlike sense of curiosity. You may have noticed that young children don’t seem to understand the idea of “no” or “can’t.” For them, the world is limitless. So, my wish for you is that you similarly retain that limitless sense of wonder and allow it to fuel your explorations.

Good luck, Class of 2017. And have fun!

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