Congratulations on being part of what will, no doubt, become one of the most famous graduating classes of all time. The frustrations you have endured will become, over the years, a badge of honor. Wear it with pride. Let it be a reminder that things seldom go as planned. Actually, they almost never do. This fact is neither good nor bad. It just is. It’s how you react to life’s rising challenges that measures the joy or pain of your hearts.
It might not always feel like it, but your hearts are always filled with love and joy. I know this because I knew you when you were innocent – before you were taught that the world is a frightening place of bills, disease and judgement. You were kids who laughed and loved with pure honesty. The fears you’ve learned since, may now tighten your chest and keep you up at night. These fears cannot destroy joy and love, they just make us forget them. They are always there. Forgotten, but not gone. Joy and love remain within. Seek them with all your might.
People and ideas will cross your paths. Many will wound you deeply or offend you greatly. Don’t let them replace your love with anger or fear. See these people for the useful purpose they serve in illustrating how love contrasts with them, and they will become useful and worthy as teachers of how not to live. You cannot punish them by returning anger back to them. Always remember, you are not punished for your anger, but by your anger.
Life is too short (I know! I’ve watched you grow so fast!), don’t waste a minute of it on pain or fear or anger or hate. They are not why you’re here. Your purpose in this world is to grow and create and explore and love. None of these things can be accomplished in a state of fear.
You’ll learn that the Universe is a willing dance partner. But know, it is you who are leading. If you dance sad, the universe will return that to you. If you dance sexy, the world will return that to you. It will return to you whatever you project out to it, so, please, make sure the song in your heart flows from a place none other than joy.
Face your fears. All of them. Stare them down with love. I know of no better weapon. Don’t think to yourself: ‘I’m afraid to take a chance. What if I dash my life upon a shoal of ruin?’ And, as a result, hide and never try. This is what is meant by that oft quoted and beautiful saying: ‘Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.’ There is no sense in living a long life if it is spent in fear. Go forth bold.
You have finished High School, but there’s still much learning to do. And, it’s not just the two of you. It’s all of us. Chapters of our lives come and go, but we all must continue to grow and learn – forever. Something they don’t teach often in school is that things don’t need to keep getting more and more complex. Sometimes the most valuable wisdom, the wisdom which makes up your core, is made of the simplest things. Learning love over hate, peace over anger, and joy over pain is simple, though not always easy. The more you understand one, the more you may understand the other. Explore these subjects deeper than any Math, English or History course. Learning them will serve you well. I promise.
You may know these things that I’m telling you, after all, you are a sharp young man and woman. But, I think you’ll find that knowing and understanding are often two different things. Understanding may take a lifetime. For a sad few, it never happens.
Measure your future success by nothing other than the amount of joy you find in your heart. I know you both will succeed because there is love in your hearts. I know it because, like I said, I knew you when you were innocent kids, laughing and loving with pure honesty.
Love, Uncle and Cousin David