Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Letter To My Neighbor On His High School Graduation

I was honored and delighted to receive your graduation announcement. I imagine it has been a long journey, but now you can celebrate an accomplishment in your life. And, the one who achieved it, and did the hard work was you.

This simply proves that you are capable of accomplishing something, if you are determined and set your mind to it. As you have learned in wrestling, it is your mental attitude that is the key. The body will follow, and the mind will follow, but once you set your course, then you can realize your dreams.

As you leave high school, and as you leave Tillamook to begin yet another adventure, I have a few things to say to this handsome, strong, ambitious neighbor of mine. It has been a joy to watch you grow and mature in the years we have been neighbors and friends.

I am proud of your accomplishments and I am proud of who you are. You are a good man. I hope you see that inside of yourself, and can give yourself that recognition.

President Obama gave a great high school graduation speech last week. I think his ideas and his observations are right on. Here are some of them:

Don’t be defined by where you come from, but by where you want to go.
You can create your own culture of caring and learning.
Success can happen anywhere. You can create success.
You will be what you intend to be, and that will be the result of education.
Education takes many forms, and education is always available. And, I’m not just talking about “school”. Every experience offers education.
Be a life long learner.
A formal education gives you options you don’t have without that education. Options are always good to have.
Learn how to learn.
Education teaches you the value of discipline.
The best rewards come from sustained effort and hard work, not instant gratification.
Learn to be a better human being.
Success comes from following the Golden Rule: Treat others how you want to be treated.
Qualities of a successful person:
the capacity to solve problems
the capacity to think critically

“These skills don’t just change how the world sees us, they change how we see ourselves. They allow each of us to seek out new horizons and new opportunities with confidence, with the knowledge we are ready, that we can face obstacles and challenges and unexpected setbacks. That’s the power of your education. That’s the power of the diploma you that you receive today.” (President Obama)

And, now its me talking.

Believe in yourself. I believe in you. Your parents believe in you. Your teachers believe in you. Your friends believe in you. Your community believes in you. But, if you don’t believe in yourself, you won’t grow, you won’t achieve, and you won’t be very happy in life.

Life will teach you lessons. If you don’t learn a lesson, life will make sure you repeat the lesson until you learn it. Mistakes are great teachers. Most mistakes can be avoided by being the good learner, and practicing patience and persistence.

Ask for advice and direction. We’ve all traveled down the path of life, and there is a lot of wisdom around. Take advantage of that. As the proverb says, pride goes before the fall. You are full of proudful machismo. Put that energy and that passion to good use, and not in flexing your biceps and roaring loudly.

When you look for a good partner in life, be patient and choose well. Be picky. Be honest. Look for someone who supports you and someone you will support in your journeys through life. You will keep growing, so look for the person who will help you grow well and to where you want to be going.

You now get to make your own rules. You now get to set your own course in life. So, be the good captain of the ship.

When you play, play well and play safe. Play in the way that refreshes your soul and provides you with meaning in your life. Allow yourself to be challenged. The strong tree grows best in the wind and allows the wind to bend its branches.


Neal C. Lemery

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