A significant moment

Published 10:09 pm Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The gowns and mortarboards have all been put away or returned. The tassels have been hung from rearview mirrors or packed away in boxes with other high school memories, to be uncovered again, perhaps in 20 or 25 years, by someone who cannot imagine ever having been so young and naïve. The parties are over, and summer vacations have begun or soon will do so.

Graduation season is over. The speeches no longer — assuming they ever did — ring in the ears of the young adults preparing to confront the world with the ink still fresh on their diplomas and the childhood friendships still relevant and intact. New friendships, new connections and new challenges await and may well supplant the others that have been so important for so long.

But for now there’s a pause, the moment between exhaling one breath and inhaling the next.


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That moment will surely pass, and the drawing of that next breath will infuse the members of the Class of 2017 with a new life, just as every previous breath, and every previous pause that followed it led with great anticipation to the next one — crawling to first steps, kindergarten to first grade, bicycles to cars, middle school to high school.

But something is different about this next breath, something that everyone recognizes, though its significance differs depending on the age and perspective of the one considering it. When the Class of 2017 inhales what seems to its graduates a heady mix of freedom and possibility, it will also draw into itself what its parents recognize as the heavy air of responsibility and worry.

College offers the freedom of setting one’s own schedule and pursuing one’s own dreams, but it also brings the weight of self-restraint, the burden of a new level of academic rigor. Employment, for those whose paths lead that direction, offers the gratification of paydays and the sense of contributing to one’s own well being, but it just as surely brings the frustration of bills and workplace grief.

There is no way around it. One can only hold one’s breath for so long. Eventually we must all draw that next draught of air, inhaling deep from the atmosphere around us.

Enjoy this moment, graduates. There will be others in the future, but none will be quite as fraught with significance as this one.