Archive | June, 2015

Graduation Thoughts

4 Jun

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What a crazy few weeks I’ve had. I spent the better part of five days trying to get a video that I created for my son’s graduating class to save properly and then upload to a format that we could use to show it to the students. It was an amazing experience in so many ways. First, I am always honored to create videos like this. It is an opportunity to let people shine, and especially in the case of young people, that is sacred work indeed. Second, my middle son, who happens to be the one graduating, stepped in where his dad usually helps in the technical areas and is truly the person that made the video happen for the kids. For three days, he tried method after method to get the video to save and upload, and he was finally successful at 6:15am of the morning that the video was to be premiered at 9am. Although I hadn’t been upset with him or even the process, I admit I cried tears of joy and relief when he finally told me the video was ready to view. I do not have the technical prowess to do what he did, and as much as I love the written word, I am not sure that I have the words to properly thank him for not only what he did, but also for who he was as a person for those few days. No matter what happened, he just moved forward. He didn’t complain. He didn’t whine. He just kept working until he found a solution. It was one of those moments as a parent when you catch a glimpse of all of your hard work play out, and you cannot help but be awed by the human being you’ve raised. Isn’t it interesting that sometimes it is through our most difficult times that our greatest blessings emerge? Isn’t it interesting, too, that during our greatest blessings, we still have to deal with negativity and unhappiness.

Such was the case with the video. When you take on a project of this caliber, you know that at the end of it all, someone will be disappointed. It is a great lesson that you cannot please everyone, and I learned long ago that the best thing I can do is to set an intention at the beginning of the process to do my best to create the best product possible, whether that is writing a blog post or book or creating a video or even planning a party at my home. The best thing I can do is to do my best to take myself out of the equation and put the work at the forefront. It’s never perfect. In this video, despite watching it dozens of times and having others watch it as well, I saw a duplicate photo at the premiere. I also included a section that highlighted the face that this class of about 400 students has ten sets of twins. One set of the twins appears everywhere in the video, and when I say everywhere, I’m not kidding. They are so prevalent that one student began noting everywhere they showed up. I had asked my son about the number of times they appeared and he assured me that they are incredibly involved with school, have many different friend groups and were bound to appear everywhere. When we go to the section that highlighted the twins, the young man who had been noting where the twins were appearing shouted, “Oh great! More ____!” And when that section of the video finished, guess what happened? The young man who had been narrating yelled, “Hey! Where were the _____?” Yep! We had forgotten to put them in. At first my son and I were so upset, but the class thought it was hilarious that we had done that, and fortunately the twins were most gracious about it too. What had happened was that some of the pictures weren’t marked with the students names, and I was having difficulty identifying them. Through process of elimination, I finally figured it out and thought I had uploaded all the pictures to that section, but apparently I didn’t. I am so grateful the twins were ok about it, and I’m oddly grateful for the young man who pointed it all out in such a humorous way that we were able to move passed it.

As with every video, though, someone is disappointed. Most of the time it is because I didn’t use a picture they sent in, and there are so many reasons we choose not to use certain photos. In this case, we had asked for parents to send in pictures of groups of students, so nearly all of the pictures of individuals were left out unless they stood out in some way. I know some people don’t understand why I can’t just add their individual picture of their child even when I explain that if I did that for everyone in this class of about 400 students, the video would be twenty minutes longer than it already is. They don’t understand that sports pictures are sometimes difficult to get more than one person in the frame so they make it in on occasion. Pictures from younger days are sometimes so precious that I can’t resist leaving them out because I’m a sucker for little sweet faces. Occasionally, it is the photo itself that catches my eye, and I had that happen in this case. I don’t know who sent the picture to me, but a single player water polo picture made the video because it was the most extraordinary photo I’ve ever had the privilege to use. Most people might not even notice because they will only see the photo for three seconds, but the player looks like he is in a dark pool with a spotlight on him. He is raised up out of the water nearly to his waist as he makes a play, and the water that is splashing and dripping is catching the light in the most amazing way. The more I look at that photo, the more impressed I am by it, and I felt compelled and honored to share it. As I told the kids before we played it for them, we did our very best to make sure that every student was included. Several people checked the lists, and sometimes pictures that made no sense to some were in there because it was the only picture we had of the student. I do feel bad that some students, or at least one was disappointed, but I also know that the 60+ hours I spent over six days finishing this project were focused on showcasing as many students as possible and I didn’t realize until it was over and one of my son’s friends mentioned it, I didn’t include any pictures of the boys’ volleyball team that my son was a member of. Oh well!

So today I put all of that behind me as I turn the focus toward graduation parties and spending time with friends and family. I have much to do, but I realize that if it doesn’t happen, the world will keep spinning, my child will still move on to his next adventure and we will enjoy the moment as much as possible. I have known many of these students since they were in kindergarten, and I’ve even known a few since they were in preschool. A part of my heart feels like those are my kids too. I understand the fears of the first time graduating parents. I understand the pride of those whose children have excelled and risen above. I understand the deep love of every parent for their graduate, no matter what they have accomplished because for some, the accomplishment of graduating from high school is much bigger than others. For some, this is just a step to the next great adventure. For some, it is the culmination of many hours of helping and pushing the child to do what comes easily for others. For some, it is a relief that both the child and parent have made it to this point when some days it seemed as if it might never happen. No matter how accomplished the student, at that ceremony, every child is the same. They are graduates, and they are loved. There will be tears of joy and pride and even a little bit of sorrow for the end of an era from parents and students alike. There will be pictures and speeches and the conferring of the degree, and then there will be the end. Immediately afterward, some will go to dinner with family. Some will go out to spend time with friends, and some will go home and the evening will end just as the high school career has done.

Within that ending, though, is a beginning. College, gap year adventures, military service, vocational training and full time work await the members of this class of 2015. Family dynamics change as children become adults and leave home for perhaps the first time or begin to take on new adult responsibilities. Some transition well and some struggle, but time marches on regardless. I’ve been in the stressful place of wondering if I’ve done enough, but today I am in the calm and peaceful place of knowing that isn’t what is most important to me. What is most important to me is that I have loved enough. I want my children to know some day that I loved them enough. I want them to know that I believe in them and their ability to achieve their dreams. I want them to come back to visit because they want to, not because they have to, and I want them to become the men of integrity I’ve raised them to be. Like so many parents I want them to have more of all of the good in our life, but I also know that so much of the good came from the challenges, so I look at life as an opportunity to always be better, do better and live better. I hope my children understand that and with all my heart, I wish the class of 2015, their friends and their families great success, great love and great joy. It is your time to fly and the world needs your very best

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