Trying To Empathize

Pomp: A show of magnificence; a ceremonial or festival display.

Circumstance: Ceremonial, attendant formalities.

One of my occupational hazards this time of year is there’s a significant focus on both pomp and circumstance. There’s a repetitious song they play while graduates enter and exit a room that consists of both words in the title.

And, yes, it’s a reality worth celebrating. Family will add plenty of mileage to odometers or SkyMiles to watch the ceremonies. Parents will host “open houses” to show their excitement. Gifts will be given. Slide shows with requisite pictures from age 1 to yesterday will be shown and my friends will say things like, “Yesterday, I was giving her a bottle and then I blinked and today she’s wearing a mortarboard.” We’ll spend a great deal of time the next few days eating off small plates while we stand up. There will be hugs. Lots of photographs will be taken. It ain’t Carnivale in Rio, but it’s not supposed to be. It seems to me to be the right balance of fuss and muss.

It’s a parenthesis of sorts.

See, this time is sandwiched between the last few months of stresses and strains that are involved in what you’re going to do “after you graduate.” Which college? What major? Which branch of the military? What trade/apprenticeship? Getting the loan to start the business?

On the other side of the parentheses are bigger picture questions involving what you’re going to do with your life. Career? Marriage? If so, who? Stay close or move away? More degrees? Go for cash or happiness or both or neither? Children? If so, how many?

I’ve spent the last few months dealing with high school seniors who’ve been wrestling with the former. I’ll spend the next few years dealing with collegians/young adults who will wrestle with the latter. Another occupational hazard.

Anyway, I recently read a book about thinking “outside the box” for grownups regarding the latter questions that you thought you answered when you wore the mortarboard from undergrad days or started the business or got entrenched in your career or started your family. Just what the doctor ordered for me as I’d been spending too much time pouring over details at work rather than thinking deep thoughts or pushing creativity/innovation.

And, the book gave some of those questions that our high school guidance counselors gave us to think about what we wanted to be when we grow up. Of course, they had a new twist as it was written for people who made all those choices once or twice and more or less had fallen into ruts.

So, I’m going to spend the next few entries answering some of those questions…if that’s okay with you. And, if you have a blog and want to play along, consider yourself “tagged.”

Because, as you and I both know, the parentheses of the in-between times don’t last very long. They’re nice to visit with family and friends and get/give gifts and watch slide shows and say “mortarboard” and eat off small plates standing up and celebrate that which is celebration worthy…

…but then you gotta get moving.



And, for me, anyway, it’s fun to think about that stuff again.