It’s throwback Saturday on my blog. I’m finding pieces from my past and publishing them for all the world to see.
I have a hard time talking about my past. There are points that are painful because of unwise decisions, and yet I would not be where I am now without those lessons.
High school graduation was one of those lessons. I was the ultimate book worm, a geek par excellence, with limited social skills. I picked some friends wisely and some unwisely. While I was top in academics, I was the dregs when it came to relationships and networking and all the soft skills.
So, I made some unwise choices that some have used to make me feel like a failure. I was “most likely to succeed” in high school, yet in life my car is nearly as old as my twins, and I have months where I rob Peter to pay Paul while I tell Matthew and Mark the check is in the mail and challenge Luke on the accuracy of the bill.
To survive, I had to go back to my roots. I had to find my still, small Voice again and really listen this time. I had to choose to redefine success not as the world does–with cars and houses and money and things–but as my still, small Voice does–with His Word and people and charity.
I don’t actually remember writing what I’m about to post. It’s my high school valedictory speech from 19xx (no, I’m not going to make it easy for you to figure me out). I remember practicing; my dad drilled me in and out so I could give it on auto-pilot. It was good he did; on that hot, sweltering night, the speaker system either malfunctioned or was turned off. I just kept going; I never realized to the end that it was off. And I don’t know that I would have known then in that moment what to do.
So for those who didn’t get to hear it because of time or circumstance and are interested, here is the text. The actual text (with modifications to protect idenitities–theirs and mine) is going to be in black, bold text. My adult self is going to be in purple (or maybe hot pink) italics, and my teenage self is going to respond with the words she wouldn’t have had back then in green.
And I think I still have the copy rights. Even if I don’t, I’m creating a substantially new and different work.
Mr. Graduation Speaker, board of directors, Mr. Superintendent, Mr. High School Principal, faculty, family, friends, and fellow students:
We the class of 19xx have entered a crucial stage of our development that parents like to refer to as “leaving the nest.”
From this time forth, we will become members of a cosmopolitan world to try to fly toward the goals we wish to achieve.
Boy, are you stilted?!? Your future will fix that. What exactly did you mean about cosmopolitan? Was it your vocabulary word of the day?
No, I think I had a feeling that the world was far bigger than anyone wanted to admit. I think I felt like we’d be challenged by so many different ideas that we might not be ready to process.
Oh, okay. Carry on.
As we test our wings on this vastly diversified planet, we should remember that infinite diversity comes in infinite combinations; therefore, we must be open to ideas from any person, no matter how he worships God or what he calls God, what his skin color is, or how his opinions differ from ours.
See, I did explain myself. You jumped too fast.
Yeah, we’re still working on that. I think you need to clarify. Do you really want to be open to ideas?
I think we have to look at ideas and analyze them according to the instructions of the still, small Voice. Even if we don’t agree with the idea, we need to be able to logically and intelligently consider it and our response to it.
You ever going to credit Gene Rodenberry for that infinite diversity line?
I don’t think he wrote it; I think it was used in several books by several different authors.
As we soar to the heights, we should be wary of exercising too much power because “Power will intoxicate the best hearts, as wine the strongest heads,” according to Charles C. Colton, and under the influence of power, we might soar so high we singe our wings.
Wait a minute. What was that skin color line about?
Um, I was struggling with some issues with the differences in spoken thought and actions. Remember that kid from the military school?
Oh, carry on…
Until this moment, we have been like baby birds, hungry for knowledge.
Our teachers filled in for our parents when the food and feeding techniques were beyond the reach of our parents’ talons; our teachers have given us their all so that we would have the necessities to survive after we left the nest.
Whoa! This is deep and dark. The talon thing was especially dark. What were you really going for?
Okay, so I wasn’t the skilled, educated writer you are. I was trying to create a long analogy, and I didn’t have the words. We all have different gifts. Where our parents didn’t have the gifts, the teachers did. The idea was we were to supplement and complement each other. I hate the phrase, but it takes a village.
With talons, I wasn’t seeing the slasher horror flick. I was seeing food being carried to waiting chicks. I was seeing a snatch at a chick getting a little too close to a nest edge before it’s time.
But even before our teachers, our parents kept us close under their wings to nurture us and to make us receptive to our teachers.
Despite our parents’ lack of technical expertise, they still have a lot to offer us; our parents and grandparent, hard as it may be to believe it, have been where we are now and can open our eyes to the best methods of flight for the various kinds of weather life gives us.
I call bu11sh1+.
You can’t. You yourself told me that the patterns were there. They may not be dealing with the world we deal with, but courtesy and respect and honor are still courtesy, respect, and honor. We and they may not like texting and instant messaging, but it communicates “I’m thinking about you” to the younger generation. We may not like selfies and instant pictures, but I bet a parent with a missing child these days is quite happy when the kid’s last pic from sports practice goes viral.
I still think this is melodrama.
Yeah, well, you have time and experience I don’t.
As I was writing my speech, I learned that a valedictory speech is defined as a farewell address; now I come to the hardest part–the farewell.
I’d like to take the time to do something now that should have been done long ago.
I wish to express publicly my personal gratitude to those who have helped me grow the most.
Stop. You know you really had only 3-4 in each school. Are you really going to be so intellectually dishonest again?
Hey, you wrestled this one with me. Why revisit this and air our dirty laundry?
Do you value truth?
What about truth in love?
Why don’t you speak truth now in the positive frame we’ve been working on over the last decade?
*deep sigh* You know what it was like. Our father wasn’t the most popular teacher, and my favorites tended to not be popular. I saw the struggle our parents had trying to get all the academic things we kids needed. I saw the “agony of defeat.” Do you really think I wanted to draw unwanted attention to anyone?
But we know it’s like that everywhere, from the museum to the cubicle farm to the church…
Yes, but it doesn’t make it any easier when it’s home. And I don’t have to like it.
Let it go. Just let’s say you were thanking your favorite teachers and move on to the next line. Let the past and the dead stay in the past.
Let me rewrite the line and put it in black. No one remembers anyway. *winks nefariously*
I want to thank all the teachers who have helped me grow academically and socially through their words and deeds.
I’d like to thank my family, especially my parents and my grandmothers, for sharing their experiences and flight patterns with me so my route might be less tiring on my wings.
I am grateful to my close friends who served as safety nets when I made solo flights and my family couldn’t be there.
Don’t go there. We’ve grown a lot, we’ve redefined our values. Who knows? Maybe this was a prophetic look into the future with our current hubby?
I am going to shut up now because I’ve heard it all.
There’s nothing new under the sun.
Finally, there is one more Person to Whom I owe even more than gratitude.
He has been my best and most constant Friend; during the blackest times in my life, He sent people to help me, even though sometimes I neither recognized nor accepted His help.
Despite my faltering and broken promises, my Heavenly Father has always been by my side, and just to reiterate His Presence, He promised, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.”
You didn’t really understand those words, did you?
No. And as a result, we made some really unwise decisions, and you have to mop up.
But we’re finally having fun, aren’t we?
You are. I still can’t get the skin I’m in.
It’s okay. I’ll tell you like we tell our girls: We’re just different. Different is okay. Even if no one else thinks it is, it is. Do I have to do the “princess of God Most High” speech too? *winks*
No, but how do we finish this? We had that song. You know…
Give me a few moments. I have hyperlinks and you didn’t. Yeah, they’ll notice, but we supposedly have so much more now.
Should we change the lyrics like we did?
No, let the lyrics stand. You know as an author I hate it when they don’t get my words right.
As a tribute to all the people to whom I owe gratitude, I would like you to visit the following URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItWIYcD6jas