Column: Passing on a warehouse of wisdom to the year’s graduates

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Thank you, graduates, for allowing me to talk to you today. What do George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Helen Keller, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Albert Schweitzer and Mother Teresa have in common? They are all dead. They have all shuffled off this mortal coil. They all had their moment. This is yours. Seize it. Never settle for mediocrity. Your life has purpose and meaning. I am not going to tell you that the road of life will be without potholes. You will experience tough times &045; times when you won’t get the grades. Times when you won’t get the job. Times when you won’t get the promotion. Times when you won’t get the girl or the boy. Remember that it takes a lot of failures to make one success. You are all meant for great things.

I once attended a commencement exercise for a small high school in its last year of existence. It had become a victim of the numbers game. The school had nearly as many teachers as it had students. It had three graduating seniors. A relative of mine was one of the seniors. I sat in the school gym and listened to the valedictorian give a wonderful talk. Then the salutatorian gave a delightful speech.

Neither one of the speakers were related to me. That left no doubt as to the class ranking of my kin. This young man became a great success, even after graduating last in his class (or third in the class if you are an optimist). Never become discouraged. Never give up.

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Do not ever let yourself become bored. There is no excuse for boredom. I said that I was bored once. Unfortunately, I made the statement to my father. My father had me clean the chicken house &045; a chore that I dreaded. There was a terrible ammonia smell in the chicken house. It was so strong that it not only made my eyes water and my nose run, it made the sap run out of my ears. Now my father didn’t do this because he was mean. It was a job that had to be done and my father didn’t want me to be bored. He was thinking of my best interests. It was a good lesson. I have never been bored since that day &045; at least, not that I would admit to. I don’t ever want to have to clean another chicken house.

I know a few things. I suspect many more. Some of the things I know are disguised as wisdom. These things are more the result of my longevity than my intelligence, but I do want to share them with you in the hopes that they will make your life better.

Turn down the bass on your car stereo. If your friends refuse to follow your fine example, think seriously about a career as an audiologist. I am betting that you will have all the business you can handle and you should make some big bucks.

Floss regularly. Just trust me on this one. It is one of those &uot;because I said so&uot; things.

Listen to the birds sing. It is good for your blood pressure and our feathered friends appreciate an audience. This practice will make you a good listener and people like a good listener.

Learn as much as you can as soon as you can about everything. People who know everything take the pressure off the rest of us.

Shoes that are not comfortable are not worth wearing. A favorite sweatshirt is always worth keeping.

You will need all the brains you can get, so borrow some by reading a lot.

There are many things worse than a big pimple on prom night. Most of the things that we worry about are not worth worrying about. My mother told me that worrying is like rocking in a chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.

Don’t be like my neighbor who loves his wife so much that he almost told her once. Tell loved ones that you love them. They will love you for it.

Plant a garden. It will grow on you. A garden is a good excuse to smell like dirt.

Don’t become another Geraldo. I don’t think I have to elaborate on this.

Pay your parking tickets promptly.

Try to become the kind of person that your grandmother and your dog think you are. They are gifted with the ability to see true potential.

Each one of you surprised someone by graduating. Someone never thought it would happen.

Congratulations. Keep surprising folks.

Hartland resident Al Batt writes columns for the Wednesday and Sunday editions of the Tribune.