Monday, June 17, 2013

To the Graduating Class of 1993

To the Graduating Class of 1993:

Today, the seventeenth of June 1993, as your honored speaker, I would like to tell you that you may not remember one word spoken from this podium in twenty years time.  However, you should remember that it was a special day. That being said, I would like to leave you with a glimpse into the future as you move on into this unique journey of life. 

Twenty years from now, you may not recognize yourself - but don't be afraid, because so many events will transpire that will shape you into a different version. You will always have certain traits that may help identify you, but I want you to be open to the idea that you may never be the exact person you hope today to be. The world seems limitless today, and it should.  So many things will happen to you, and you will happen to a great many others. 

In the coming years and decades, nothing is certain but constant evolution. You will work and leave employment. You will lose someone close to you. You will be disappointed, and you will be elated. You may travel the world and have adventures. Someone will have faith in you. You may fall in love. You will make mistakes. You may find yourself doing something you were sure you would never do. You will discover true friendship. You will see your family in a different light. Answers will come, and more questions will arise. You will be lost, and you will show others the way. You will learn and see and do so much. You will be shocked by events that happen across the globe and numbed by some that happen in your own town. You will be angry. You will be forgiven.  You will receive so many gifts, and you will gain a greater appreciation for the value and consequences of your decisions. You will never know it all, but you will gain wisdom. Eventually, your story will unfold, and hindsight will draw reason from chaos.  

With all of this uncertainty, you absolutely must do something for yourself and for the world that is of great importance - you must have special days. Today is a special day, and you chose to have it. After close to eighteen years of things way beyond your control, you chose to create this special day. As decisions become more and more your own, the value of your life will be determined by the special days you chose. By creating the experiences that define you, you bring purpose to your human story. Some things are almost completely under your control, and when you force these days that bring butterflies to stomachs, you create the moments of life that matter. It is not enough for you to be able to say you followed the recipe, when you were the reason the world would have flavor. 

In twenty years, you will look back at this day as a fond memory. You will know that you really were quite clueless, and you will wish you could whisper some secrets to the mystery of the world in that young ear. Of course, you probably wouldn't have listened. So enjoy this day - nay, savor it - and use the time you have in a way that continues to give butterflies... in your own special way.

So, congratulations to the Class of '93, and may today never be your best day.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Unintended Consequences

I have from time to time cautioned friends that "even I don't like traveling with me" as part of the explanation for why I always travel solo. I wander, I get lost, I miss connections, and I make it up as I go along. It happens. You do find some of the cool stuff that way, and you get plenty of time to think. To me, that is a big part of travel - to find those hidden gems and find out why they are there... and why you are there.

I began a journey last August. Ostensibly, the mission was to circle the globe. It included ten countries and three continents. As necessary, many arrangements were made ahead of time, and more a city in advance, but a lot was left up to chance; one could also see that as putting one's faith in God to guide the way and get to where one needs to be. I was fortunate to have company along the way, whether an old friend, colleagues, a brother of a friend, or a wifi pass code away, so I was not alone for much of the journey. Some helped show the way, while others provided some sense of a reason to return. However, when you are out there, you see how big the world is (especially Russia!), and the eager mind will seek to know how all of the pieces fit in this vast puzzle. How will the future deem this trip necessary and of substantial value? These things do come together, as I have seen, but sometimes they just take a while.

About halfway into my trip, I hit that wall that I have found inevitably comes with solo trips of some great length. You realize you would rather be somewhere else, and you start to worry about things like money and safety... basically you question the premise of the journey. This trip it was in Prague. The theme that came to mind while spending the majority of one day taking photographs along the river was that of unintended consequences. I wasn't sure what that meant, but it was clear that things happen in succession, and sometimes the dominoes begin to fall out of what was once thought to be your control. That's life, though, I suppose; you approach things with the best intentions and you do what you can to manage the outcome. Some of the most beautiful things come along the way that you could not have foreseen - like a sunrise you saw only because you slept in a car, a meal that happened because you took a ride from a stranger (I don't recommend that), or a friendship that developed from delivering a photograph to the right rooftop. These things are part of the beauty of life; they are the hidden treasures. They simply cannot be planned, intended or not.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Happy Birthday Tom

In lieu of a card, burritos, or flowers, I would like to dedicate this entry of discoveries to my brother Tom,  in celebration of his 45th birthday today. In retrospect, I have him to acknowledge, at least in part, for so many influences over the last 37+ years. Let's see:

Soccer, photography, motorcycles, road trips, the restaurant business, Rosie's burritos, strength training, a healthy self-image, Washington, DC, Republicanism, politics, high standards for female companionship, and Van Halen. I am sure there are more, but here's to another 45 years... at least. 

Happy Birthday, Tom.