“It’s not the years. It’s the mileage,” said one of the greatest adventurers of all time, Dr. Jones. Unfortunately, the years have a way of sneaking up on us when we’re busy doing everything that we are scheduled and obligated to do to be productive, civilized human beings. Finish school. Get a degree, maybe two. Get a job. Get another job. Maybe back to school again, one more degree won’t hurt. Find a career. Oh, get married, have kids – er, not – and don’t forget weekends with the mates, and parties at the Smythes. Next thing you know, twenty became thirty. Thirty becomes forty. Forty becomes forty-two.
That’s where I stop for now, because that’s the age I’ve hit, and according to Douglas Adams, I’ve found the meaning of life – 42. Now, it has been a few days since I hit that mark, and no laser precise epiphany has beamed into my soul causing me to comprehend life’s complete purpose. For all the things that I have done in life so far, I can say that without much doubt I have paved my way, and with my wife, we have paved our way. The road has not been consistently straight, smooth or rocky; it has been a journey worth taking, and I know that neither one of us has much regret, if any at all.
But this isn’t about my journey. This is also the time of year for the young to leave the nest, graduate, and start their daunting trek into adulthood. Or, at least, dip their toes in. Thousands of High School Seniors are leaving school, celebrating their accomplishments, some scholorly honors, and some for their notoriety – good and bad. Of all those young adults, I think of one in particular, one that has most definitely graduated with honors. She is humble, sweet, brilliant, and for all the time I have known her – only six short years – she can light up a room with her smile and genuine joy for life.
People often say that this is a difficult time to raise children. The effects of social media, information at the flick of a finger, smart phones, smart tablets, smart everything. I suppose this may all be true, but two parents I know did a pretty bang-up job if I have merit to what I’ve observed. They have raised a daughter who has skills she has yet to discover for herself. Most importantly, they have taught her to study hard, but also to play hard – have fun – dream and embrace everything. The rest of us misfits, well, we just showed her a lot of things that we all forgot we did, except for the unfortunate photographic evidence. So sorry about all that.
She starts her new chapter soon enough. She will face exceptional challenges, staggering decisions, epic failures, and momentous successes. And that is just fine – even the failures. As each failure will become some of the most memorable experiences of her life. For the brave and determined, a vast future of choices will be exhilarating – freeing. And we should be free to sometimes make bad decisions in amongst all those good decisions. I certainly know of a few in my past, some that still make me cringe. I won’t speak for my wife, but hey, even when she married me that rather rash choice has turned out to be quite a successful and happy sixteen years of adventures.
She has miles to walk. With each step there will be a new discovery, and if the path becomes too steep, stepping back or to the side is quite okay. Sometimes climbing the highest peak is taking the long way around the mountain and up the gentle slope. And then, on the contrary, there’s nothing wrong with hauling dynamite, setting the fuse, and just blowing the top off. These are her choices, and as we stop back and watch, she will amaze us all. You see, as we celebrate her achievements, what she probably does not realize is how much she has influenced all of us who circle her world. Her parents, friends, “adopted” uncles and aunts, we are all the fortunate, as her youth and intellect help reassure us that just by knowing her we made the best of all choices.
This milestone comes to a close. I have turned another year older. The grass is just a bit greener. I am gloriously thrilled that I can still make bad decisions, but over the moon that I have my wife to watch. And as we celebrate this young woman’s new future, we can place any baggage aside and just bask in the overwhelming good vibes that she brings to us this weekend. It will be a memory never forgotten.
Which is to say, we are so bloody proud of you.