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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Commencement






The truth? Graduation's a real trick box for me.

I missed every one of my own except for 8th grade. I graduated high school early and college late (with free housing and tuition, wouldn't you?)

Both the Master's and the PhD ceremonies at the University of Illinois took place on Saturdays.

So over the years I've made it my business to go to these things when I could, make a presence in the school auditoriums, bleachers and gyms. True, it wasn't easy sitting through the many leaps into eternity, but having a pager (in the days before cell phones we had pagers) it was easy to excuse myself to find a phone.

Therapy docs can get pretty busy, especially when someone's giving a speech.

I love the costumes at these things, the robes, the tassels, the sashes, the ropes. I love the idea of 4,000 kids throwing their black caps into the air at the same time. I love seeing the college kids strutting and smiling, parents snapping pictures, getting it all on videotape. And there's the pride, the mutual sense of sacrifice (parents pay, pay, pay, for kids to learn, learn, learn). And the sheer press of humanity trying desperately to fill a football stadium or a basketball dome, knowing that without cell phones we'd all be separated in the throng forever (meet me at the top of the stairs outside to the left, past the turtle).

I love that the stadium is at capacity with people doing the right thing, suffering through the pomp and circumstance because their kids shouldn't have to go it alone. Nah, my parents couldn't make it. As children of a 2 working-parent household, my kids said that so many times. I came in late to so many school plays and I missed many, many things.

I love looking at the faces, mainly, and the clothes, the polyester, the silk, the leather, and the hair! The gray hair of the middle-aged juxtaposed against the long, jet black or brunette, blond locks of youth.

I just love the SCENE. I'm not even going to tell you how much I love a college campus, almost any college campus, and how red brick buildings drug me senselessly.

F.D., on the other hand, hates these things. We went to our son and daught-in-law's graduation at the University of Maryland yesterday.

"I hate these things," F.D. moaned.

D-I-L's mother: "I can think of a million things I'd rather be doing and should be doing. Can't you?"

Uh, no.

But again, I usually don't sit through the whole thing. I get up, I make calls. I walk around the entire periphery of the building. I look for art work, plaques. I read names.

And afterwards I still get to see the kids laughing and smiling, smacking those high fives with their friends.

Sunday night I DID sit through the whole thing. I sat through the WHOLE thing and IT WAS DREADFUL. The speeches were really horrible. So, so boring, and the one speech that could have been good, the one about selflessness and leadership rubbed me wrong. How could he tell us how selfless he is? Is it selfless to say you're selfless? I don't know. All I could do was shake my head.

This brought up the inevitable question, Could you, TherapyDoc, do a better job? Could you give a decent commencement speech?

No, I thought, probably not.

Oh, heck. Why not give it a try? What have we got to lose?

It's almost finished, actually.

Copyright 2007, therapydoc


10 comments:

Emy L. Nosti said...

Congratulations to your son and daughter-in-law...and sorry to hear about the lackluster speeches.

I look forward to reading your effort; our speaker yesterday was very entertaining, but wholly uninspiring. Very New-Agey, singing about the dawn of the Age of Aquarius and how this somehow meant that we would no longer be ruled be science (we were?).

On the upside, he was a captivating speaker and had a nice singing voice.

therapydoc said...

Congrats, back. Captivating is nice. Singing's even better.

Anonymous said...

for inspiration, check out this commencement address given by steve jobs. short, sweet, and an interesting take on the sources of success in life.

http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/2005/june15/grad-061505.html

bjurstrom said...

Dear Doc,
Graduations are rituals...and the commencement speeches invariably trivialize the event...All you really get is an inkling that (you) or your kids will be able to fly on their own....It's an ancient exercise in hope. What speech can compete with all the strange thoughts and aspirations of the graduates, the guests? Not worth it. Sincerely, Deb

Mark said...

Goes to show you that everything that we experience is based on our perspective at the moment.

Rachel Inbar said...

Thanks for signing one of my blogs :-)

I also missed all but one of my graduations and I think it's given me years and years of nightmares. The one time I did make it to graduation, they had FORGOTTEN TO PRINT MY DIPLOMA. I mean, seriously, what is that supposed to be?

I go to all of my children's graduations. Some of them are torture, but some of them aren't too bad. I find that the more they make them personal (relating to whoever's graduating) the more interesting they are.

Could you do a better job? Well. I've found that most of the people who speak don't really care whether anyone can follow what they're saying and speak for way too long. So, I guess if you spoke short and with a real message, you'd be doing a better job. Humor is also always a plus.

therapydoc said...

Oh, those nightmares. How about the late library fines? No way you get your diploma if you haven't returned those books!

Janie Hickok Siess, Esq. said...

Thanks for participating in the Carnival of Family Life this week. Your post is a great contribution to the Carnival! Thought I was pretty smart for about 5 minutes when I pranced across the stage and collected my J.D. Then I started studying for the Bar. Ugh. Oh, well . . . I had a moment there and shall always remember it.

Dave Richards said...

Hey thanks for submitting to the Graduation Blog Carnival really appreciate it! You're post is up!

Holly Schwendiman said...

I'm right with you on loving the scene of graduation and with everyone else on suffering through the speeches. ;)

Hugs,
Holly
Here via the Carnival of Family Life. :) (but you know I'm here anyway.)