June seems to have come and gone ever so quickly this year. I suppose that’s the nature of life. The older we get, the faster the days, months, and years seem to pass. I think even Einstein would agree. June always has thirty days in it—it’s not like sneaky February with its leap year—and yet those thirty days seem to go by so much faster than they did when I was a kid. I remember being in grade school just waiting for school to let out for summer break. The winter months seemed to drag on and on, and that last month til graduation felt like for-ev-errrrr.
The funny thing is, as much as I looked forward to graduating and summer vacation and all the excitement that June brought, it also felt like a sad time. It was a time to say good-bye to teachers who had great impact on my love of reading and writing as well as a time to throw out old notebooks filled with a year’s worth of thoughts and doodles.
It was also a time of change and uncertainty. What would the next school year bring? What would college be like? What kind of job would I find after college? What would it be like to go back to grad school after so many years out of college and in the workforce? Did I take advantage enough of grad school and will I now make good use of my MFA?
I wasn’t in any sort of academic program this year, and yet once again I’ve found June to be a time of exciting and positive change but also uncertainty about what the future holds. I recently made what felt like a pretty big decision that will (hopefully) bring me a bit more stability and permanence in my life, however the decision was made at a time when I found out a family member was making the opposite decision. I guess even as adults, we encounter times when we graduate from one phase of our life into the next.
Years ago, my mother gave me Anna Quindlen’s A Short Guide to a Happy Life. I’ve had to get rid of a lot of books over the years with all my various moves, but I’ve held onto this small volume, inspired by a commencement speech she once gave. I think no matter where we are in life, June is a good midpoint in the year to celebrate the accomplishments we’ve made so far this year and plan for the rest of the year. Commencement addresses like the ones by famous authors below are a great inspiration. I also like Warren Buffett’s recent advice to the Millennial Generation to “stop holding yourself back.”
Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451) at Columbia College
Max Brooks (World War Z) at Pitzer College
Louise Erdrich (Love Medicine) at Dartmouth University
Neil Gaiman (The Sandman, Coraline) at University of the Arts
Sue Monk Kidd (The Secret Life of Bees) at Scripps College (woot!)
Anne Lammott (Traveling Mercies, Bird by Bird) at U.C. Berkeley
Michael Lewis (The Blindside, Moneyball) at Princeton University
David McCullough (1776) at Wellesley High School
Anna Quindlen (Black and Blue) at Villanova University
J. K. Rowling (Harry Potter) at Harvard University
David Foster Wallace (Infinite Jest) at Kenyon College
Elie Wiesel (Night) at Washington University
And for those of you who dropped out of college: Jack Kerouac did too, but he kept on studying and you too can keep on learning and growing.