Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Celebrating a Milestone and the Future

This past weekend my wife and I travelled to Meadville, PA to celebrate the graduation of my son from Allegheny College.   It was a glorious day!  The weather stayed dry so the ceremony was held outdoors.  The event featured the reading of the names of every graduating senior, but did not feature any long, drawn out speeches, so the proud parents and friends were not nodding off in their chairs.

As the time for JW to walk to the stage approached, Nora and I moved towards the front to get a closer view and take some pictures.  Of course, it was hard to focus the camera through the tears of joy, but we cheered loudly when his name was called and we managed to click off a few shots as he walked to receive his diploma then returned to his chair.  I yelled his name as he moved down the row back to his seat.  His look and his wave to us will forever stay in my memory as one of the greatest moments of my life.

Afterwards, we had twelve at dinner including my son's girlfriends' family.  The next day we helped move JW to his temporary digs as he will be staying with a friend and his family while he looks for an apartment, and a job.  After saying a tearful goodbye, my wife and I headed home, full of concern, anxiety, love and pride.  And, more tears.

Before leaving however, I spoke for a while with JW to gauge his perception of the job market.  He was extremely optimistic, almost on the verge of arrogance.  He had spent some time in the past few weeks testing the market and had gleaned from these contacts that there were many jobs to be had, he just had to decide which was the best fit for him.  While I am sure he must have been nervous about the tasks at hand, he did not convey this uncertainty to me.  What do they call it?  The ignorance and exuberance of youth?!

I guess I am a bit jealous of his confidence but would certainly not wish him to reflect the negativity and hopelessness that I have heard in other young people.

Since arriving home, I spoke to him on the phone once and he remained positive.  Additionally, I read an article in the May edition of the Smithsonian.  (How I wish that everyone could read this magazine - I truly believe that if they did, we would be working, both collectively and individually, much more effectively on solving the problems of the day).

Here is a link

The focus of the article is the incredible technological breakthroughs that are in progress which may revolutionize the medical industry (and a few others as well).  Forget about all the political games being played in Washington over the Affordable Care Act, all the hand wringing over the insurance mandate, all the doom-saying talking heads who predict bankruptcy if the United States tries to provide health insurance for its citizens, the real progress is being made in the labs and basements of America's innovators who are creating hand held devices and apps that will provide access to health services, medical test results, and perhaps even basic diagnosis and treatments without ever visiting a health professional.  If even one tenth of the possibilities of this technology work as predicted, our grandchildren will look back on all the partisan bull crap exhibited in our discussions about health care and shake their heads in wonder as to why we didn't stop arguing and start cooperating. 

Have we become that concerned about who solves the problems, who gets credit, who is proved to be wrong, that we can't see that we need to work together to solve our problems? 

In the 60's, America was all about the future, how great it would be, how great America would be, how our leadership and example would improve the world.  We were a younger country then, literally 20 years younger on average.  Perhaps that is the root of our problem, we look at the future through the eyes of the middle aged, as opposed to the dreams of the young.  We cower at what may come as opposed to rushing to the future with eyes wide, ready to experience, ready to live.

So, thanks JW!!  Thanks for reminding me that life is to be lived, regardless of one's age or circumstance.  That life is about taking chances, moving to a new place to find a job, living in a basement as the first stop on that trip, experiencing life, the ups and downs, rather than fearing about what life might bring.  

May we all remember and embrace the ignorance and exuberance of youth!!!


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