It is that time of year again.
Some years ago, I was invited to speak at the graduation ceremonies of a liberal arts college. Later, many in the audience told me they expected a very political speech. Some of them were relieved; others were disappointed. I don't do politics at graduation.
Graduation is about life.
My high school graduation was OK. I gave a speech. My family was there, intact, probably as happy as they ever were (But did I know?). We went out for Chinese food afterward.
College was not so great. I'd been raped 36 hours before. My father didn't come because I didn't have a ticket for his wife. He said he was sick, but I knew the truth. We had bagels at my sister's afterward. My father bought me a gift that he kept in the trunk of his car, but then someone stole his car, and the gift was gone.
I didn't go to my law school graduation. My father died a few months before. I was already working and didn't have the money for a plane ticket. Besides, the whole idea of it seemed too sad.
Graduation can be very hard.
Here is what I know.
It's easy to forget how lucky you are. I should have had more fun at my high school graduation. I should have had a truly wonderful time. I remember feeling sorry for myself that I was not going to my first (or second or third or fourth) choice college, all of which rejected me. As it turned out, it was fine. As it turned out, it was the last time I remember my family happy together. Why didn't I enjoy it more?
It's easy to think everyone around you knows just where they're going. Maybe they think they do, but they're probably wrong. If someone had asked me back when I graduated from law school (by mail) what I would not be, I quickly would have told them two things: I won't be an academic ("Those who can do, do; those who can't teach."), and I certainly will never be a partner in a big law firm.
And guess what? I'm an academic and a partner in a big law firm.
It's easy to think you're the only one whose father didn't come, who isn't heading for a fancy dinner, who doesn't have a job and a life all lined up. You aren't. If everyone around you looks happier than you, it may be that they're just acting. Or maybe they're counting their blessings. Or maybe you should.
In the months before I finished law school, when I was struggling to finish what I started, when I was living on my "bursar's card" because I literally didn't have a dime, I found a wonderful psychiatrist who told me to read a book called "Adaptation to Life." It was a serious study by some long-ago college cohort to determine who found happiness and success in life. And the conclusion (and the reason the wise doctor recommended it) was that what mattered most was not the hand you were dealt, but how you played it, and that "adapting" to life was more important than anything else.
When I speak at graduations, that is what I say. Do your best. Adapt. Life is about change; living well means adapting to change. Your first job will not be your last. Your first love may not last. You will win some and lose some. You will fall down and get kicked. You will be treated unfairly. It happens to everyone. It's what happens next that matters. "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." -- Winston Churchill.
Life requires courage, when you're young and when you're old.
To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
© 2013 CREATORS.COM
It is that time of year again.
Starting over at Head Start
All I ever wanted to be was a journalist. Having worked on my high school and college newspapers, I knew it was the career for me.
I love talking to people, listening to their stories, being creative every day and experiencing new things. But as you know, news happens outside the hours of 9 to 5, and my job here at the Register rarely stayed within that time frame.
They don’t make strawberries as they did back in the old days
I’m not inclined to go through my archives at the moment, but it almost feels like the column I’m about to write has almost become an annual thing over the years.
At least I know for sure that that this is not the first time that memories of picking strawberries there on Blair Branch on hot days in June has triggered this keyboard about this time of year.
I grew up on a little subsistence, hillside farm deep in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, among the coalfields near the Virginia line.
Baby boomers have let technology rob their grandchildren of the joys of youth
When I was growing up, it was not uncommon to see fathers and sons along creek banks fishing together or in the woods hunting squirrels or pitching horse shoes or even shooting marbles late in the afternoon in the cool hours before dark.
Dads were teaching kids to play the games they grew up with. Little girls, learned from mothers,how to skip rope, play with jacks or play hopscotch.
No Lincoln or Douglas in this debate
Remember the famous slap-down in the 1988 vice presidential debate when Republican Dan Quayle compared his youth and limited government experience to those of John Kennedy’s when Kennedy ran for president?
His Democratic opponent, Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, acidly replied: “I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”
Senate campaign already in full bloom
Any hope for a respite in the U.S. Senate campaign following Tuesday’s primary disappeared immediately.
Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes came out swinging in victory speeches which sounded like campaign kickoffs.
McConnell commended Matt Bevin on “a tough (primary) race” and appealed to Bevin supporters to unite behind his re-election bid. That will be hard for Bevin and those who backed him.
‘Taxpayer-eaters’ meet ‘self-serving politician-eaters’
What some candidates could gain in this year’s election – beyond just winning office – is a stark reminder of how wrong political leaders were when declaring last year they had adequately addressed Kentucky’s public-pension crisis.
Instead, legislators with serious courage deficiencies failed to agree on reforms beyond what they believe are “politically feasible.”
Step Out, Step up for Diabetes Association
Six weeks ago when I wrote here announcing the 2014 Edition of Team TKO’s American Diabetes Association, Step Out Walk Team, several dozen of you readers sent generous donations to sponsor grandson Tyler Kane Ochs (TKO) and me in the walk that takes place, rain or shine, in the mud or not, at Keeneland on the morning of May 31.
Another several dozen of you either called, emailed or dropped a card in regular mail and asked that I remind you again “after the holidays” (Easter and Mother’s Day).
Hitting the campaign trail
The most watched race in the country ? the battle for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Mitch McConnell ? has so far produced a bevy of charges and not much substance.
We haven’t seen that much of McConnell or his likely Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes out on the campaign trail.
McConnell’s primary opponent Matt Bevin has been much more active and visible, but his performance hasn’t enhanced his chances.
The case of the scary black cat
If Margie didn’t believe that black cats were the harbinger of bad luck, she certainly believed it when a black cat brushed against her leg while she was leaning over a large trash can burning garbage one late afternoon.
Startled by the sudden appearance of the feline, Margie opened her mouth wide and let out a blood-curdling scream that could have awakened Count Dracula himself.
Basking in the spring sunshine
If you had asked me, as recently as two weeks ago, to make a list of things I expected to see on the first Monday in May of 2014, two of the things that I actually did see would not have been on the list, even if you’d required that it contain at least 500 items.
I’d have been a bit skeptical about Ralph’s purple asparagus and his gorgeous snowball bush, both of which came through most admirably. And I would have had my doubts about the poppies that have been in our back yard for several generations and the bearded German Iris that Jeanette Todd gave us more than two decades ago. It faithfully stuns us there at the corner of the front porch every spring, but there they were, basking in absolute glory as the sun set Monday afternoon.
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