I love transitions. I find them fascinating: it is a time in people’s lives when one period may be ending and another beginning. It is at this time when we are perhaps our most open, and I find that to be a very compelling state of being. True, it is not easy; and it is really fun to watch others in their own transitions from the safety of not being involved in one personally. And I want to add that I am thinking in this particular moment of positive transitions. The news has been all too full of people who are forced into them through natural disasters and violent acts of others, and although there may ultimately be some learning and something positive to pull from it, I am not at this time thinking of those opportunities encased in crises.
I am referring to graduations. Having attended two in the last eight days, I am struck by what is constant, what is different, and what this time means to so many people. Last week we were shivering in a tent which kept out much of the 48 degree wind whipping through. Yesterday we were sweltering in the shade on a humid, muggy 90 degree roaster. However, the words of encouragement rang true on both occasions. The stories about perseverance and overcoming adversity were inspiring. It was moving to see graduates clutching their diplomas to their chest, or raising them triumphantly overhead as they strutted back to their seats. The grins on their faces were broad and sparkly, the hugs long and heartfelt as one person and then another congratulated those who wore robes, caps or both, and those who decided to just go in nice clothing.
The acknowledgement of the goal that they had set brings upon the celebration that it deserves. Clearly there have been long hours, days of consternation and frustration and moments of jubilation as projects complete, grades are received and requirements filled.
The graduates have each other, their instructors, and many unseen who have supported them, challenged them, and witnessed their individual truths. And now like balloons they have entered the ceremony tethered to a single pole and then released, with all of them rising and following different winds.
One of the greatest challenges during this time is to remain open to new things, to try out the chosen path but remain open to the possibility that it may not be the right or best thing. However difficult it is to admit that all the work moving toward a certain destination may have ultimately been in the wrong direction takes courage to acknowledge and act upon. But that is just as important as having chosen it in the first places. In both cases it is necessary to listen, really listen to the voice that is trying to speak to our heart. This cannot be done when one is hurried, or being bombarded with ideas from others. It comes from the still times when we can really read the fine print of our own thoughts.
When we make decisions, I believe that we do so with as much information as we have at any given time. With more learning and more experiences, and different priorities, we make different choices. So it is ever a balancing act of honoring what we have chosen, and having the fortitude to follow it through, and becoming aware when there has been a shift which really requires a change, a new decision. This is something that I struggle with because I am someone who feels that it is important to persevere with something that I have elected. It is much more difficult for me to consider that the time, effort and expense I have poured into one direction may no longer be my most passionate or driving need. But ultimately, we save all our resources if we can listen to the voice that speaks from the place of honestly and devotion to what is true.
I wish the class of 2013 the ability to stay with what they love, to work their lives to support and flame those passions, and to know when to change course. It is not always easy, quick or simple, but it is just as important, and takes as much courage to decide not to pursue something that previously felt monumental.
I wish the class of 2013 the wisdom to perceive these changes, and the support of people around them to always guide them back to their own voices. To transitions, may they be fruitful, dramatic and full of love and learning.