Congratulations, graduates of the class of 2015. This is a time of celebration, for it is the first time in living memory when no one in my immediate family is graduating from anything.
But you are! And that’s great! I’m certain your families, out there in the audience, don’t mind pretending to be happy sitting through all these speeches by strangers with questionable ties to your class. Instead of spending their day watching all the Godfather movies in a row, they are enduring this ceremony just so they can hear your name spoken for an approximate total of 1.1 seconds.
Do not underestimate the dedication this takes. With you graduates all dressed the same, your families cannot even comment on your classmates’ poor taste in leggings, which really should never ever be worn as pants. Seriously. If you learned nothing else in this specific program or course of study, please, please recognize that you would be better off wearing chain mail made from beached kelp than leggings as pants. That look is nearly as unfortunate as jeans worn so low that they are technically denim socks. Either this latter fashion blunder has blissfully gone out of style, or I have just stopped leaving the house.
Leaving the house. That is what you graduates are doing, in the metaphorical sense. And maybe even the literal sense, if this isn’t a kindergarten graduation. A word of advice as you step into the big wide world:
Actually, never mind. I was going to intone something Deep and Meaningful, something using a preschool-sized finger-paint handprint as an extended metaphor for how you will always continue to grow and learn, even though you’re leaving school precisely so you can stop growing and learning. It was going to sing such phrases as “Next Chapter” and “Be True to Yourself.” It was inspired.
But I have sat through plenty of speeches given by folks who thought they were inspired. And all I remember about them is how bored I was. No one wants to be here; luckily, the person who invented graduation ceremonies also invented alphabetical order. That way, the Aarons get to skip out early, and entire Youkilis families can take a nap until at least the Willises. Or they would, if they could. But they can’t.
I realize you graduates take naps for granted. Someday, as adults, you will have to attend graduation ceremonies in which you are not personally graduating. Then you will learn that the folding chairs and bleacher benches in these places are REALLY uncomfortable. Unlike you, your families cannot fall asleep on a tile floor or a writing desk or an anthill. They are out of napping shape.
Graduates, you must treat your naps with the rigor and respect of an Olympian. The swimming and running kind, not the curling kind. The ability to fall asleep anywhere, at any time, and to wake up reliably before dinner requires more dedication than you could ever imagine. Once you fall out of practice, once you dull your abilities, once you succumb to the pressures of the waking world… it’s lights-out for naptime.
Or should it be lights-on for naptime? I don’t know—and that question has kept me wide awake for hours, maybe even minutes, that I would have rather spent napping. But I got lazy with my naps. Scientists say I could have developed higher alertness, enhanced memory, improved performance, less stress, and other superpowers just by crashing out. Instead, I am nap-flabby. Take a long, hard look at me, graduates. I am what happens when you adopt a lax training regimen.
So when you leave here today, by all means, celebrate. Go to dinner with your families, and then party with your friends. Sign yearbooks, hug each other, and swear you are going to stay in touch, even though, in reality, you will get really good at passing each other in the grocery store while pretending to examine the nutrition labels on Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. Exhaust yourself, so that when you get started on your future, it begins with some killer zees.
You’ll keep taking those naps if you want to really Be True to Yourself in the Next Chapters of your life. Let nothing stand between you, your pillow, and a healthy lifestyle. Got a commute? Squeeze one in during the bumper-to-bumper. Got religion? Snooze through the eyes-closed parts of the service. Got ambitions? Don’t chase them down half-dozed. Got family? Make sure that they never, ever, ever graduate.
This Fool’s Gold originally appeared in The KC Post.