'And all the obstacles along the way may seem tremendous. There are guides and spirits along the way who will befriend us.'
- Van Morrison
This is an uncertain age in American society, with high unemployment, a slowly recovering economy and plenty of fears about the future for America and the globe.
With the general state of things, it gives a sobering aspect to that chestnut concept of "the real world." That's the heightened state of existence that every year in May and June, high school and college graduates reminded they are about to enter, diploma in hand.
Horizon Christian handed out diplomas Saturday, and Hood River Valley's Class of 2011 walks on Friday.
No matter the age and societal conditions, there are always plenty of bromides and formulas one can apply to how our young people can succeed in the world.
Speakers at Horizon Christian School's June 4 commencement hit the main one on the head.
"If we live with purpose, with passion, we're going to be successful," valedictorian Tiffany Lehman said.
"When you pursue things with passion, you are living life at its fullest, what I like to call living life on the edge, not just in a kind of hum-ho way, but pursuing your goals," said Brandy Walton, a 2000 graduate of Summit Christian, now Horizon.
Having achieved the profession of college professor, there's plenty of stock to be placed in Walton's words. She told the students of recently preparing for a 5K race, and on one grueling training session, there were many places she could have either turned back or taken an easier route. But instead she kept going, and chose to take on hilly roads.
"We came to a big hill ... and even though it was getting dark, I said 'Let's do it,' and we were going up and I was dying and at times I thought 'We should have taken the easy way,' but we kept going. We had perseverance; we were passionate about getting to the top of that hill. There were many, many points we could have turned back and gone another way, taken an easier route, one not as challenging and less tiring but we kept going, we kept on. And I thought, 'Wow, that is just like life. There are many forks in the road, some challenging and more difficult and some more easier.'
"When you are living passionately, and you choose the challenging route, you are going to be a stronger and better individual for that."
The roads will not always be easy for any of our diploma recipients, be they 18-year-olds finishing high school or 20-somethings matriculating college or post-graduate programs.
But another common theme cited by those involved in Horizon's commencement and those planning Hood River Valley's points up one way the community can have a hand in preparing future graduates for those roads:
On Friday, HRVHS will honor its grads, but also two volunteers of the year. These are adults who have been there, week in week out, for the students throughout their careers at HRVHS.
"We really need those adults to volunteer. It's good for the kids, and good for the adults," said class advisor Leisa Runyan.
Those volunteers' names will not be revealed until Friday, but their value is no secret. From preschool through high school, it is adults who take the time to mentor, tutor and guide our young people, and help parents prepare them for the rigors of the roads ahead.
Congratulations, graduates. Push aside the obstacles and remember your guides and spirits as you make your way.