Black capes, square hats and mothers with Kodaks. It all added up; graduation had come. Finally.
Intonations of fear surged through my breast as I found my place in line. Some girl named Gladden was behind, Gideon was in front and me, Gividen, between. We were three of a thousand caped kids trudging single file through the entry of the football stadium. The bleachers jammed with proud moms and relieved dads; not to mention a smattering of siblings and an assortment of other friends and relatives.
And so we found our seats, grateful for the overcast sky. This was no place to bask in the sun. We had survived four years of torturous teachers, “cardboard burgers,” and pimples. The draft was ended; I escaped the Vietnam war, barely. And now had the last of hurdle of hurdles to overcome: A boring speech by Mr. Drizzle.
His small frame mounted the podium with the same self-assurance he demonstrated in the classroom. I would wait, patiently. I had to. He had my diploma; one of two essentials of graduation: The sheepskin to mount on the wall and the tassel to string over my Chevy’s rearview mirror.
I can’t remember every word he said. But it was the quintessential of commencement sermons. We were about to commence. To begin. I was ready. Let's go, already!
The great unknown, he called my future. Things we couldn’t even imagine. At the time, Mr. Drizzle (now Dr. Drizzle) was a mundane little man with a litany of shallow words. Today his wisdom rings true. And here’s why.
Today I’m living in yesterday’s future. I can look back at three and half decades with precision-vision unavailable in 1971. I can see the future of the eighteen year old I once was — simply by remembering my past.
I can see my wife, only a casual friend at the time, watch my children grow and name my grandchildren. As I look back from 2004, I view the future from 1971. Does that make sense?
I can see the hand-held calculator, the personal computer and, gasp, the internet — as common now as the phone was in bushy-haired sixties and seventies. But I can see something more; much more. I can catch a glimpse of wisdom.
Here is a truth to ponder. Today is thirty-five years ago from thirty five years from today. Sound strange? Read it again. Today is thirty-five years ago from thirty five years from today. Just as today is yesterday’s future, it is also tomorrow’s past.
“So what?” You ask.
They say you can’t change your past. But in fact, you can. When we recognize today is tomorrow’s past, we can alter that past by making wise changes today.
Here’s an example.
“If I had gone on a diet five years ago I would be in good shape today.” Imagine making that statement in five years. Five years ago is, well, today. Again, today is tomorrow’s past. So what we want to change in the past we need to change today.
I got my diploma, my tassel and a hug and kiss from Gladden. Haven’t seen her since. But no kiss from Gideon. And that’s a good thing. I would’ve had to punch him.