There's a book called, 'Oh the Places you'll Go," by Dr. Seuss that talks about all of the paths that your life will take. It's a favorite gift for graduates. It's a pretty good book of course. It doesn't tell you about all of the twists and turns though.
It fails to tell you that the best place you can be is right here, right now in your life. As much as you might think that life is rough at this point, or that you are overwhelmed by the choices that you need to make, trust me when I say, your life will never be less complicated than it is right now.
Your class, like one a few years behind you, has suffered a loss. That moment in time will be one that you'll never forget where you were. I hope there are very few times like that for you. But like all of you, our hearts won't forget. It's okay to shed a tear and to remember. And we'll all pause with you.
But look ahead now. Take time to enjoy your day. Enjoy the love and attention that your family and friends are laying on your right now. Soak it all up and remember it. You might think that dad and mom are just doing what they are "supposed to do," but they aren't doing it for that reason. They are doing it because they love you more than anything else in the world.
When they ask you to call every week or two, do it. It's not because they are nosey or are helicopter parents, it's because they want to make sure that you're okay and again because they love you more than anything else in the world.
When they deposit money into your bank account, it's not because they want you to have a great time at college, it's because they love you more than anything else in the world.
When dad asks how the car is running, and mom asks how the meals are, it's their way of saying, they love you more than anything else in the world.
If they show up unexpectedly, or they send you a care package, or perhaps they ask your friends how you are doing, it's because, they love you more than anything in the world.
If you get cross with each other, and you think you heard what they said and you're sure they didn't hear what you said, it doesn't matter. They are human and sometimes they mess up, and so do you. But they understand that, and they love you more than anything else in the world.
When they get grumpy because you didn't call at the exact minute that you said that you would, or you don't arrive home at the right time, it's not that they are angry with you. It's because every possible worst scenario just went through their mind because they love you more than anything else in the world.
When something is bugging you, and they know it, and it's irritating that they keep asking if you're okay, well, it's because they love you more than anything else in the world.
If something is bugging you that no one else can help you with, but it's too tough to talk to your mom and dad about, do it anyway. They love you more than anything in the world.
Get ready, get set, it's time to go. Where? You might ask, I don't know, and you don't either. You think you might, but you'll find that path that you thought you had all mapped out, suddenly flew out the window with a better offer, a conflict of some sort, or something you and I can't even imagine.
You'll look back and at some point, and you'll say to someone who is by your side, "If I hadn't gone there, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to...which led to this. This lead to that, and now here we are. At this point you'll pause and you'll say, "I'm glad my grand plans didn't work out like I thought they would." When that happens, take a moment and realize the people that had your back. It was probably mom and dad, because they love you more than anything else in the world.
Or, maybe you'll say, "How in the world did I end up here, doing this?" Trust me, it happens. But when it does you know the choice you need to make to get on a better path. It won't be easy, but you should know that it will be worth it. If this happens, and you have to sheepishly call home, and say, "Mom and dad, help," they won't care what the story is, because they love you more than anything else in the world. Call.
Now I realize that probably not ever one of you has had those parents that you could lean on, and I'm sorry if this is not the case. Every kid needs them. But sometimes, moms and dads were hurt when they were young and they never could get over it. Try to cut them a little slack. Be what they couldn't be.
If you haven't yet, then take a moment to reflect on the even more special people who have taken time out of their lives to make yours better. They may not even know how one little thing that they said or did has helped you on your journey. But if they did, they did it because at that moment in time, you were the most important person in the world.
And as you head out into this big, big world, where there are endless possibilities, or maybe you decide to stay right here, know that this little community of Vinton, while we love you and are rooting for you, but, we aren't as good at it as mom and dad, or the others that have meant so much to your life.
And hey, we're all just trying to figure life out. If we look like we have it together, trust me, none of us do all the time. Cut yourself some slack when you feel like you're at your wit's end. If you have gotten this far, and feel like there is still isn't one single person you can turn to, there is one pretty important person you can look to. Trust me when I say, "You are the most important person to Him right now."
Be kind to someone. Find a need and meet it. Make someone else feel like they are the most important person in the world.
With all of our love and prayers, Class of 2021, go out there and don't be afraid to show this world that Vinton-Shellsburg Graduates are some of the best people ever born. For those that don't like the ooey-gooey sappy stuff, this is for you. Go out there, kick some butt and take some names!