Eugene Weekly : Viewpoint : 6.4.09

Dear Graduate
Go forth and make your life extraordinary
By Todd Huffman, M.D.

Congratulations on your splendid achievement! There were almost certainly occasions when you doubted you would ever see this moment. But you kept on going, step by step, and day by day, and here you are.

Sometimes that is all you can do in life, is put one step in front of the other. In doing so, you will always come to a new day, no matter your darkest hours.

This day, graduation day, will stay in your memory until your days are done, as a reminder that you have a power great within you to shape your own life. Your diploma is proof of that, and that is no small change in your pocket. Use it wisely, and it will prove a treasure.

This day you are entering upon a new beginning. As you enter the world, do not make the mistake of so many before you in thinking that the state of the world does not concern you. Your private concerns, your happiness, even your life’s course will be affected by the condition of the world you live in.

Do not say of the world, “It is not for me to understand,” or, “I cannot change the ways things are.” The future cannot bear your resigned indifference.

Those who wish to control the story of the future are in fact depending upon your indifference. Do not grant them such power. Wake up each day expecting a better future, and do each day what you can to bring it about.

Neither place upon yourselves unexceptional expectations, nor bow to the god of Playing It Safe.

And do not spend your days as many do, waiting for their lives to change. Rather, declare loudly and without apology: “I am here, world! I have come to change you.”

It’s no small thing to change the world, but it is a small life that does not even try. Change need not make headlines. Most important changes never do.

Change comes instead from the little things you do at home, at work, or at worship. It comes from the letters you write to the paper, or the calls you make to your politicians. It comes from the way you treat the checkout clerk, the receptionist, the drive-through teller.

Live your life with the knowledge that our actions send forth ripples, and that it is a measure of our days whether those ripples make waves that change the world for the better.

Live your life not as spectators on the sidelines, but as players on the field. Live your lives not as conformists, doing what others do and accepting what others say.

Instead, live your lives out loud! Refuse to ever hang up your ideals, put away your enthusiasms, quiet your questioning spirit, or close the lid on your indignations.

Heaven knows there are already enough people who’ve done so.

Your future promises more possibilities and more challenges than those experienced by any generation before you. You most certainly will not be bored, lest you choose to be.

So much that is impossible you will live to see made possible. So much that is unimaginable awaits for you to imagine it. Graduate, the future is something you make instead of enter. It isn’t awaiting your arrival — it is awaiting your energy, your passion, and your creativity.

And so today, as you turn your thoughts to this awesome future, know that your life’s learning has not ended, only just begun. The truly educated, as someone wise once said, never graduate.

So ask, and listen will. Use the voice that is great within you to raise uncomfortable questions, and speak uncomfortable truths. Go forth on this earthly journey hungry, with an insatiable appetite for knowledge, joy, meaning, and, most of all, truth.

Graduate, do not let your education collect dust as does the diploma that will soon hang on your wall. Use it everyday. Use it to buy more education, all your days, until you own as much education as can fill your mind in a lifetime.

After all, everything remains to be said, done, and discovered.

Now go, make your lives extraordinary.


Todd Huffman, M.D., is a Eugene pediatrician.



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