July 2017

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July 2017

Thoughts from David Grindle

USITT Executive Director

And so comes to close another graduation season. Colleges, universities, and high schools have all played pomp and circumstance until their eyes crossed, had the occasional mispronounced name, and taken endless obligatory photos.

I was at one of those graduations this year and was stunned to hear the words of an 18 year-old valedictorian. He spoke of life ahead, as many do, but said that life was not a road but an ocean.  Roads, he said, are laid and planned by others with predetermined paths. The ocean is open and you chart your own course. Yes there are unseen dangers, but you can change course at any moment rather than waiting for a prearranged crossing.

These words were revealing to me because I thought the young man had encapsulated my life journey far better than I had ever been able to. Most people I know have course shifts that they don't see coming more than forks in predetermined paths. This is a life long endeavor, this charting of courses. We focus on it at graduation times, but, in fact it isn't unique to that moment in life.

The other speaker at the graduation discussed being faced with choices and having to make decisions. While the two had not discussed their remarks prior to the event, fate drew them to complimentary topics. For, as the salutatorian noted, when faced with decisions, make one, for the roads are paved with squirrels that couldn't.

I will confess that I paid greater attention to these speeches as one was given by my son and the other by a good friend of his. (If you know me, you know which one was my kid).

But these young men set upon truths that each of us face all our lives. We must make decisions and choose our course. But in fact, our life course is not a road, predetermined by others.  We are on a vast ocean and have the ability to chart our paths and make our own decisions. Yes, there are always external factors that drive those, but the power to choose lies with each of us.

The ocean metaphor led me to think of a quote that was shared with me at my high school graduation and one that seemed apt to these young men's wisdom;

"It is difficult to discover new lands if you are afraid to lose sight of the shore."