Now that it’s graduation season, I’m thinking about how important a graduation ceremony is for saying good-bye to the old you and welcoming the next chapter of your life and art.
A graduate dresses in a special robe and hat, walks across the stage with family and friends, cheering and clapping. Her name is read for all to hear and we take photographs and raise glasses. She cries for what she will miss from the closing chapter and feels the fear and excitement of a new beginning.
The last formal graduation ceremony I participated in was when I graduated from high school. I never attended my graduation from college because I had already moved home by then and my college was so big that it didn’t seem my attendance would make a difference.
I’m thinking now about how to bring more ceremony – even if it’s just a pause as I transition from one chapter to the next – into my own life.
Years ago, my elderly Uncle moved from his hand-built house in rural Oregon into a condo in town, so he could walk more and drive less and be closer to the hospital. He wasn’t sick but he was in his 80s and it seemed the right time to downsize. On the last day of moving, four strong men lifted his table saw out of the house and loaded it into the moving truck. Before he let them close the doors of the truck, he stopped.
“I want to take a moment of silence,” he said as he and the men circled the table saw, a saw he wasn’t taking with him to the condo, a saw he would never, ever use again, a saw that had helped him build the house he was leaving.
My Uncle stood with his hands on the saw and tears in his eyes saying a silent good-bye before the van doors shut and he moved onto his new life, in town.
This wasn’t a formal graduation, but it was saying good-bye to the past before he moved onto this future.
What are you shedding this season? Who’s screaming your name from the stands? Who’s standing in silent witness? How do you allow time for the daily graduations, from who you were to who you are becoming?
The Fourteenth of July 1914, by Roger de La Fresnaye. France, 1914, Cubism, oil on canvas, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas.