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26 June 2009 / April

Graduation (the ceremony)

Actually, I can write about graduation.

Graduation (the ceremony) is really for everyone except the graduates.  Graduation was an incredibly significant night for me as a family member in 2006, and as a friend in 2007 and 2008.  But as a graduate myself in 2009, it was essentially a meaningless formality for something that I’d known in my heart since June 12: that high school was over, and many things would simply never be the same.

That’s why we needed a rehearsal for graduation: to make sure we all processed properly, with smiles on our faces and an arm’s length between us and our predecessors, and to make sure we knew what to wear and what not to wear (and what not to not wear), and to make sure we knew when exactly we could switch our tassels from the left side of our caps to the right.  Few events of any actual significance need to be rehearsed in that particular way, because few such events have anything to do with form and all such events have everything to do with spirit.

Honestly, I expected that graduation would be crowded and hot and dull, but also intensely or even painfully emotional for me.  Instead, it was crowded and hot and dull and hardly emotional at all.  It was errant beach balls and heartfelt but corny speeches and, perhaps above all, a popularity contest.  It really was just pomp and circumstance.

Graduation was valuable not for any intrinsic reason but for what it forced me to realize about the day that truly mattered, which was June 12, which was the last day of high school, which was when I had to seriously think about what it meant for high school to be ending and for many things to be simply (or not so simply) never the same.

The point of high school was not the moment when I walked across the stage to receive my diploma, or even the whole two hours that made up graduation.  That’s like saying the point of your trip around the world is the moment when you pull into your driveway at the end of it.  That moment is critical, because the journey would not be complete without it.  But to focus your attention entirely on that moment would be to miss the real point.

And the real point, of course, always was and always will be the journey itself.


One Comment

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  1. Rafael Lizarralde / Jun 27 2009 10:46 am

    I completely agree…. at the ceremony itself, the only emotions I felt with any strength were discomfort (at being in a loud room with lots of people who were looking at me for part of the time) and anger (at the people throwing the beach balls around). In contrast, the last day of school (particularly the time right after school ended) was emotionally wrenching (I guess to make up for my obliviousness of the implications of ending high school prior to that).

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