December 19, 2017
by Doug “Uncola” Lynn:
My oldest graduated from college last weekend so my family and I attended the convocation for the College of Business on Friday and the commencement on Saturday. It was a great few days with us hosting a dinner party for family and friends at a restaurant in the lively college town after the ceremony; and followed by relaxation in and around the hotel pool later in the evening.
With the college courses taken during high school, my graduate finished a semester early with two majors and a minor, Magna Cum Laude (3.89 / 4.00 GPA), and with Honors (i.e. – through the Honors Program); plus, was nominated by the faculty to be a Convocation Student Marshal for the College of Business.
Amidst all of today’s ceaseless millennial bashing and never-ending doom porn, I was reminded this past weekend regarding the relevance of milestones, of personal achievement, and succession, against the larger cincture of generational gyrations; this current Fourth Turning in particular.
The main commencement speaker was a regional celebrity and recently retired after a thirty-year, nationally distinguished career. The speech was the usual fare and delivered in quite an informative and entertaining fashion. The speaker spoke at length regarding the importance of friendship and advised the students, in the end, to make friends, to vote, and to make their bed every morning. Although I had heard the making the bed speech before, the lesson remains valid: If you make your bed every day, at the very least, you will retire that evening to a perfectly made bed at the end of a long day.
As one would expect, while sitting in the audience in the very impressive facility, my mind wandered and I thought of the various station-points that delivered my eldest child into the sea of black gowns stirring far below. In my imagination, I conceptualized my own commencement speech; which I soon deemed important enough, in fact, to be delivered personally by yours truly. But I realized I would have to be patient. I would need to wait knowing it would be some time before I could corral my eldest child privately in order to impart my wisdom.
But I didn’t want to wait. Maybe I could call. No. That wouldn’t work because millennials never answer their phones. Oh. I know! I could send text messages! Yeah. That’s the ticket! All millennials read their text messages. But wait. I had even a better idea. I will insert the text messages into a typed letter! This way I can cram in more words.
That’s the plan. Here goes:
Your mother and I are sooooo proud of you. More than you know. I can’t help but reminisce and wax poetic regarding your life’s journey thus far. As this turning ends, another circle closes, and new a passage begins. There is so much I want you to remember, and this is why I am writing you now; in tribute to all of the important wisdom you have heard so many times before. Yes, the words are familiar to you; but, even still, I must ensure that you will never forget them.
These messages were sent to you during the various stages of your life and I am now texting them to you once again. You were pretty patient with your mom and me not getting you a smartphone until your high-school sophomore year. I realize you, and all your friends, thought we were cray-cray, but look at you now!
Of course, some of these messages you will recognize from when you were much younger. They came to you from my Blackberry to your $49 pre-paid burner phone. And some were shared with you privately, around the dinner table and before you went to sleep at night.
I still remember you telling me about your first day of school:
“Today was my first day of Kindergarten!”
“I know…we walked you there, remember?”
“What did you think of Kindergarten?”
“I thought it was GREAT!”
“That’s great, Kiddo”
“What was your FAVORITE part of Kindergarten?”
“Playing outside at recess and activities. I got to be a LEADER!”
“Awesome! What did you have for lunch?”
“Well… it’s time for you to go sleep now Kiddo’”
“OK Dad. I love you.”
“I love you too. See you in the morning time.”
“Good night dad!”
“Good night my little KINDERGARTEN LEADER PIZZA EATER!!!”
I also recall when you were in your early years of elementary school and all of your best buddies and BFF’s kept moving away. Year after year. One after the other. Then, one night at dinner, you’re Mom asked you who you played with at recess and you said: “I played all by myself”. I remember you looked sad as you stared down at your food. But if you had looked up, you would have seen your mom and me biting our own closed fists and looking panicked.
Do you remember what we told you then?
I’ll never forget you trying, initially, to jump on the pogo stick, and later, trying to hit to the ball over the swing-set in the back yard and, much later, attempting to parallel-park MY car. None of these went very well. But why did you get so mad at ME? Remember what I always said?
High school athletics and state-level competition; honors classes, homework, and helping around the house. What was the magic acronym? And what must never be forgotten?
How about the time when your friend needed your understanding and you didn’t know how to let them down easy? You asked for my input and what was my advice? I still remember typing it into my Blackberry:
How about all your important meetings and your first big job interviews?
And, as you now begin your new career, I hope you will never forget what I texted you on the very first morning of your first college internship:
These are the only ones I remember now, Kiddo. As you know, there were so many more. You did it! You totally kicked ass. You were born and raised for brave and mighty things; and for such a time as this. You got this. I couldn’t be more proud.
Can’t wait to have you home for Christmas. Let me know when you leave. If it’s easier, just text me.