This past Sunday I followed and participated in portions of the Cornell Graduation Ceremonies. Although I was on campus to mingle with the graduates of my department, I chose to listen to the President's address on radio. I was quite impressed with his advice to the graduating class which included the following points.
1. Stay connected.
2. Expect the unexpected - life is improvisation.
3. Ask for help - it is a sign of strength.
4. Take care of yourself.
5. Effect positive change - give something back.
This has to be good advice for every one of us. In fact, for this 1957 graduate of Cornell, I hope that I have played the game of life with these principles guiding my behavior. These guiding principles probably are very idealistic. Everyone knows that asking for help is often precluded by our pride. When we encountered the unexpected we can fall into despair. And many times we drive ourselves beyond the point of healthy rest and relaxation. At the same time we also find we feel so stressed we don't feel like we have the energy to give back.
How do we right our ship of existence if we fall into bad habits regarding points two through five? There is a good reason for staying connected to be the number one point in Dr. Skorton's address. Being a part of community in meaningful connection with others is the bulwark of support. This community can be family, temple, mosque, church and/or a circle of friends. True connectedness requires developing true community and takes some work to achieve. Last night our cable service disappeared for the evening. This sent me on a late evening search for a good book to read. I remembered how moved I was by M. Scott Peck's book, The Different Drum -Community Making and Peace, published in 1987 and began a reread of this material. This book sets out a process for community building that brings being connected to a stellar level.
It gives me hope for a better world. I would recommend this book for any graduate and for any geezer.