This Saturday is graduation. Instead of having end-of-job thoughts, it might be nice to take a sec to have some graduation thoughts instead. Graduation thoughts are hard, though, so I’ve taken some inspiration from a book and a song. Because, you know, that’s how I do.
Yesterday evening, I finished reading the first in a new series. Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft. A really interesting book, a fantasy set in a world inspired by the kingdom of Ur and the Tower of Babel, but steampunk. Adventure and romance and conspiracy. It’s a fun read, and well-written. Would recommend, though we’ll have to see how the rest of the series pans out.
At the end of the book, there was a brief author interview. Mr Bancroft had this to say about his main character, Senlin:
He rushes when he should linger, and he is patient when he should insist. He does learn, but slowly; he grows, but not in a straight line.
When I graduated high school, I felt pretty good about where I was going. I tried to be open to the possibilities of the formless future, but I had a pretty good idea of a direction. Not a detailed plan but some strong, if general, convictions. I had fairly concrete goals, which started with a course of university study but continued after I received that diploma. I was going to go places and do things and it was going to be great.
Then, I redefined my goals, what I wanted my life to look like. A valid thing to do, but what I came up with as a replacement was exceedingly vague and, in response to the pushback I’d been given by the world, a little more half-hearted because I wasn’t sure that I could really accomplish much. Not that I’m entirely lacking drive or purpose, but they’ve both been tempered by setbacks which, I suppose, are inevitable to most people with dreams.
I’m not about to fill this blog with a bunch of advice for graduates. I’m not far enough removed from it myself, for starters, and I’m not sure that advice of that sort is as helpful as we’d wish it to be. Experience is sometimes the best teacher. I feel like parents can attest, sometimes children just do dumb things no matter how persuasively you explain that it definitely won’t end well. We will, like Senlin, learn slowly, misjudge, anticipate inaccurately, take lessons from situations that are not perhaps the lessons we ought to take away.
And in this, there is a constant kinship with the recent graduate. I’ve spoken with some older people recently, those who seem to have normal real-person careers and whatnot, and it seems to me that we’re all just bumbling around pretending that we know how to do stuff but in fact, we are still rushing when we ought to linger, being patient when we should insist.
Can I just take an extra moment here? I love that phrasing. So poetic and so exactly right.
I’ve had things pretty good. My trials have been trials, but they have been small trials. And for that, I am exceedingly grateful. I am not afraid of growing slowly (at least, not in my best moments). No experience is ever wasted, as I was always telling myself in Korea. I do know things now, many valuable things, that I hadn’t known before.
And take extra care with strangers,
Even flowers have their dangers.
And though scary is exciting,
Nice is different than good.
Now I know:
Don’t be scared.
Granny is right,
Just be prepared.
Isn’t it nice to know a lot!
And a little bit not.
May we know the difference between nice and good. May we learn to linger and insist appropriately. May we grow, be it ever so slowly and circuitously, into more compassionate, wise, and humble human beings. And may the growing never cease.