Publication: Freedom — OCR - Placentia News-Times; Date: June 30, 2017; Section: News; Page Number: 3
WHAT A DAY
Addressing an invisible audience
As we bring the curtain down on June, I suppose I should be focused on our 4th of July festivities. There will be barbecues, fireworks, and a few speeches about patriotism.
I will be stocking up on tranquilizers for the dogs, who do not care for explosive noises of any kind.
My mind, however, keeps straying back to all the commencement speeches I’ve been hearing, either in person or via the internet. Every June, we are treated to wonderful words of advice from people who have gained wisdom from their experiences.
Sometimes I fantasize about giving a commencement speech. Where others might grip their hairbrush and sing in front of the mirror, imagining they are Lady Gaga, I grip an imaginary podium and look out at my invisible audience.
“I’m sure you’re all wondering why I gathered you here,” I say, because you should always begin with something clever. Then I promise not to quote from Oh, The Places You’ll Go, because everyone quotes that book.
In my imaginary speech, I think about all the people I’ve known and read about, and how they succeeded in their fields, if not in their lives. I want to impart their secrets to this new group of young people, who are heading off to become adults.
The hard part is saying what I need to say, not what I want to say.
I’m a mom. I’ve spent my son’s lifetime trying to balance between protecting him and letting him explore this world. It’s difficult at times, and I have to ask myself whether my rules are for his safety or my peace of mind.
Other parents must also walk this tightrope. We know what we did as kids—we don’t want our children repeating our mistakes, even as they grow older.
My mistakes shaped me, though, as much or more than my successes. Eating peanut butter and crackers at the end of the month taught me to budget my money more carefully. Getting fired from a job taught me to be responsible for my own choices. Failing at relationships taught me how to be a better person to everyone around me.
I had no safety net, and I landed hard a few times.
So what I want to say to young people is to dream big, climb high, and soar on the wings of success.
What I need to say is, I hope you fail. I hope you face hardships. I hope things don’t always go your way and sometimes you don’t have enough of anything, and it makes you sad. It goes completely against my grain to say this, but these are the moments that will sculpt you into a fully functioning person. The only way you find your willpower is when you’ve been knocked down and have to rise up.
Of course, I want to be there to help you. Every time I get an opportunity, I’ll leave the door open and the light on. Get off the floor, stretch out your hand, and I’ll help you through.
Our country began as a group of people from other lands, who built a village and helped each other survive. I’ve oversimplified the story, but the important part is, they held their hands out to the shore and welcomed the folks who came after them.
Maybe I am talking about the 4th of July, after all.
Longtime Placentia resident Gayle Carline tracks those moments that shape her days as a wife, mom, computer whiz and horsewoman. E-mail her at [email protected].