As the graduates go into the world, they have visions of the huge multi-level home with a majestic view of the city of their choice; driving the expensive luxury car; marriage to the trophy spouse; the perfect children (a boy and a girl, both who are geniuses, of course); membership in the exclusive country club; and a yacht berthed in their own slip at an exclusive marina to which they much fly using their own private jet and be chauffeured in their own limousine. Hogwash!
Later in life the realities of all of that inspiration settles in. After the classroom days are over, a graduate realizes that it’s not the acquisition of all the pieces of that dream, but the drive or the hunt for them that is the real treasure. Even as children, there was a goal of some kind that most of us dearly wanted and were willing to work for a long while to achieve it. Let’s say a new bike or something. Many times, after a while that goal seemed as if it were a silly thing to desire, leaving a kind of empty feeling when the realization of the goal wasn’t very fulfilling.
We’ve all seen movie stars, athletes, etc., who have achieved great financial wealth. They have all the bling — the stable of expensive cars, the bevy of opposite-sex hangers on, they seemingly have it all — but then it all comes crashing down around them for whatever reason. They are an emotional and societal train wreck. They have hit rock bottom.
As I look back at my life’s experiences I remember envying an old man for his neatly cut and stacked woodpile made of scraps of lumber. True, it was just a stack of old lumber, but it was stacked as neatly as the ruins of Machu Pichu. Everything was in its place. The old man was quietly proud of his woodpile, which seemed to provide him an endless supply of household warmth on a cold winter’s day. Over his years he had developed a confidence that he could do anything, no matter how difficult. He didn’t need anything fancy, he had what he needed and it made him happy.
Whether this old man had “worked hard,” he accomplished success nonetheless. He lived simply, but that simplicity allowed him to enjoy his existence and savor the results better than if he had an excessive amount of more of the same.
Because of his simplicity he was able to enjoy peacefully his view from any lofty perch as long as he wanted and as often as he wanted with no expense to himself or any other living creature. The solidarity of his feelings and thoughts made him the envy of anyone.
Graduates, go forth, but on your way to your future pause and reflect on my old friend and his neatly stacked woodpile. Strive to stack your wood as neatly in your future.
Larry Wilson is a 50-year resident of Sparks and a retired elementary school teacher. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.