Column: Do what you like, Graduates
Sometimes I will read an editorial opine by any number of writers around the world and dismiss the whole mess to the inner madness of another egomaniacal windbag.
Having access to a public forum can be both a blessing and a curse for both reader and writer. It is also a privilege and that right has been treated myriad ways from lies to abuse to genius throughout the print era.
It is the latter that should be aspired to, but perfection cannot be attained, even if one had plenty of free time; something so many writers are lacking.
My point is I missed my privilege. I missed my job while recuperating for two months and I have more than one page to write upon. It's great. Not perfect, but as perfect as can be for me.
This has been a foreign concept in my past and leads me to mention it because graduation nears for many students.
In the event one of these students is seriously pondering the ever-present question that must be pervading their lives, I feel compelled to give just one small bit of advice that I am sure these students have already heard in multiple formats.
The question, of course, "What are you going to do with your life?"
It's like Dee Snyder is in your face in the classroom, at home, everywhere.
Not that any current seniors should be expected to know that reference, seeing as how it was displayed before their births and is really just a tell on my age.
The answer, as serious and important as I can express, "Do what you like. Study what you like."
Or for those of us who remember Twisted Sister, "I want to rock!"
When this coming graduation is 20 years down the road, which, believe me, will come faster than you can imagine, priorities will have slammed on the brakes of youth. It just takes longer for some of us to realize.
I know this from experience.
For a decade, I awoke loathing what I had to do and sacrificed my happiness for living far away from home and making a lot of money.
I would jet from Dallas to San Francisco because it was the weekend. Why not?
I made annual pilgrimages to Mexico because it was what we did in December.
I spent holidays on beaches. Christmas at Joe's Daiquiri Shack on New Smyrna Beach was a new height reached in the annals of independent me.
I ran around like man in his late 20's refusing to grow up, ignoring any kind of retirement fund contributions and thinking my body was a tool with which to imbibe and abuse at a level where every day I was still metaphorically living in my junior year party house at St. Cloud State, just taking that immature madman around the country living the dream.
The weekends sure were fun.
Monday morning would come and there would be that face in the mirror.
Sure, we had fun at the beach, but the next eight hours and the subsequent 32-50 more, depending on the week, workload, whims of my boss, were going to be nightmarish, to put it kindly.
It was never worth it.
In the background of my former corporate life I wrote every day at work, at home, for small, local publications from Florida to Texas.
It was what I liked to do. It came easy.
I also missed home.
So I threw six-figures away, came back to Minnesota and pursued writing professionally, rather than living what I thought was professionally.
I hopped on a pontoon immediately and it was the best day in May of all time.
It took a few years to get back up to speed. I wrote and published a book during my hiatus.
For half a decade, I retired. It was what I liked to do. It came easy.
It was difficult to rewire my mindset about employment after having taken so many wrong forks in the road.
As a high school graduate, I went to college as an Economics major.
I left school realizing money is just numbered pictures of dead guys on green and flesh-toned paper typically converted to digital numbers on plastic that we exchange for goods and services.
I have lived with little and lots of it. It never spiked my psyche as much as what I did to earn it.
So soon-to-be graduates, take my words as you please. I am not trying to tell you what to do.
High school graduation is an important time and I wish I would have listened to those who gave me the same speeches.
Be a success story, graduates. Be happy.
For, if in the future, you are not pleased with life's progression, the universe will send someone to remind you.
I was told this for probably the ten-thousandth time by the prettiest girl in Oakland, Calif., in 1999, as I was mired in misery about what I was doing with myself.
She told me to 'be happy' by giving me a self-help book of the same title.
I did not figure out what Chelsey really meant, or the things in that book, until this morning over coffee.
It's okay to be a little happy and embrace the idiosyncrasies of one's self. In fact, it's mandatory for happy living. Live for what makes you happy.
I live for entendre.
Do what you like.