Sunday, May 15, 2011

Endings and Beginnings

Yesterday was the University of Montana's graduation ceremonies -- and yes, there were multiple ceremonies. I love graduations -- I always have -- which is a good thing because as a faculty member I have to attend.

The day started with a bit of a wardrobe malfunction. My plan was to wear shorts and a tee-shirt under my robe but I discovered too late that the robe did not zip far enough down on me to get away with the shorts -- oops. So I had to wear jeans -- more oops -- under the robe. Oh well -- it is Montana and I was not the only one :)

The main university ceremony was in the football stadium -- very cool. The faculty marched through the tunnel onto the field, which has artificial turf -- wow!!! It was a heady experience to be down there on the field with all those people in the stands, and I had never actually felt a football field with artificial turf so I took off my shoes (once in my seat, of course) and enjoyed the novel feelings of fake grass on my toes.

They don't pay faculty quite enough so as part of our compensation package, we got great seats at graduation -- second row on the fifty yard line -- as in ON the fifty yard line :) And what a treat -- Tom Brokaw was the speaker and he was amazing -- truly. His talk was inspiring, thoughtful, intelligent, funny -- all the things a great graduation address should be -- I am a fan.

One thing he said that I will never forget was the graduates were not going out to the real world -- the real world was junior high, with all the hurt feelings, jealousies, meanness, immaturity, etc. and that was the kind of stuff that they would too often encounter again in the so-called real world. What an excellent point -- funny but sadly, too often true...

He talked about the importance of helping others, of making a difference in the world -- all that stuff that I think is important -- and his status and experience made the charge credible. It was without question the best graduation speech I have ever heard. (You can read more about it at the Missoulian:

And then we had our School graduation, where we faculty beamed with pride as if it were our own children who were completing their degrees :) Lots of hugging and tears ensued -- a tender, happy and bittersweet time as we said farewell to all those wonderful students who have been a part of our lives for the past few years.

I am so lucky to once again be in academics, where I get to continue a cycle of life that started for me with kindergarten -- hard and intense work for the school year and then an ending -- a completion, a graduation. I get to graduate from this academic year and have a rest before starting again -- it is a cycle that is familiar and wonderful and suits me very well.

I will work all summer but in different ways than the school year, and that ability to vary my work is sustaining and interesting. But I will also do lots of fun things and take little trips and ride my bike and train dogs and enjoy having Dear Husband underfoot and so on. After all these years, I still get summer vacations, with all the excitement and hope that it has always brought -- I am lucky indeed :)

I think endings and beginning are important, and that we need to look for the opportunity to create them in our lives -- and celebrate them even when the ending part is hard. We rest our minds on the bittersweet sadness of an ending but need to quickly turn to face the rising sun -- the new day -- the new adventures that beginnings offer. Graduation is a really BIG ending -- and beginning -- and how blessed I am to be able to participate in them each year :)

Happy Graduation to you and good luck in your future because really -- every moment is a graduation from our past, and the beginning of our future...


  1. Look at that big grin on your face!! Best photo smile I have ever seen of you! YAY! Tom Brokaw has been my fav since I was very young. I grew up w/him on the news, and I still miss him in the evenings. He was part of my routine for many years. Would love to have been there to hear him speak! What a fun day!

  2. Wonderful post and a great picture too!