For all the graduates.
Well, another school year is almost over – to the cheers and delight of children and teenagers all across the country.
It’s been 19 years since I proudly graduated from high school with family and friends looking on.
Now instead of referring to myself as a “teenager” or “college graduate,” I find myself using terms like “husband” and “homeowner.” Boy, life certainly has a way of escaping you, doesn’t it?
Over the last 19 years, I’ve gained invaluable lessons and have come to understand this: in our youth we’re determined to prove to everyone that we’re independent and wiser than our years might suggest.
But as I sit here today at the age of 37, I can tell current graduates that there is no greater value in life than learning from the experiences of those who’ve come before you.
One evening I stumbled upon a documentary series on The Discovery Channel entitled, “Life” – narrated by Oprah Winfrey. This particular episode was on the amazing familial bond some animals have in the wild, most notably nature’s gentle giants, the elephant.
The documentary focused on a young elephant calf in Africa who was only a day old. She paled in comparison to other elephants in the heard, yet to us would probably seem immense. She was absolutely adorable – running around trying to figure out how her legs and trunk worked, all under the watchful eye of her mother and grandmother.
The unbelievable way in which these large, docile creatures care for each other as a family has been studied and written about for years, but to witness it, even on television, was truly something to behold.
Because the dry summer heat had eliminated much of the water supply, the heard needed to travel across the landscape until a proper drinking hole was found. But the young calf wasn’t quite ready for such a journey.
At times she would lag behind the group or lay down out of sheer exhaustion and boredom – her mother often nudging her with her trunk to keep her moving forward. Finally they came upon a large pool of water, something the young elephant had never seen before. She was fascinated by the sight and immediately made her way to the water’s edge, unaware of the thick mud beneath the surface.
A few steps in, the young calf became stuck in the moist soil and suddenly began to panic – struggling to pry herself free. Her mother rushed to her rescue but her inexperience only made the situation worse, pushing her further down into the muck. Thankfully grandma wasn’t far behind.
Poking her daughter in the backside with her long tusks to move her aside, she swooped in and with her mighty trunk was able to dislodge her granddaughter so she could climb to the safety of dry land. Out of breath and filthy, the young calf and her mother each learned the value of experience that day.
If there’s one piece of advice I can pass along to this year’s graduating seniors, it’s to remember that life isn’t about always being right and having all the answers. It’s about learning something valuable from those who’ve come before us – avoiding the pitfalls many have already succumb to.
Unfortunately, today’s youth, especially graduates, seem uninterested in learning from those who possess a little more knowledge than they do. Then again perhaps we all were like that at that age, as we walked out of our high school and straight into our lives.
Graduates, no matter how old you are there will always be times in your life when you find yourself stuck in the mud. The important thing is to never let your ego prevent you from accepting a helping hand, or trunk for that matter, from someone who’s already been there.