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Fossil Dad: High School Graduation on the Frontlines of the New Reality

Dear High School Graduates: Congratulations! You survived high school and now have a diploma to prove it. No easy feat, considering the complicated world we live in today. I have some sage advice for this year's graduating high school class. You can thank me later.
Taso Lagos is program director for Hellenic studies in the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. Photo credit: Patrick Luhrs.

Mill Creek resident Taso Lagos blogs as a middle-aged new parent. He has some sage advice for this year's graduating high school class. You can thank him later.

Dear High School Graduates:

Congratulations!

You survived high school and now have a diploma to prove it. No easy feat, considering the complicated world we live in today. 

Some say the world is always complicated, but really? There was a pandemic in 1918 in the United States, too, but did students then have smart phones, Zoom classrooms, and study abroad?

You’re the Covid Generation and this crisis will bore deep into your bones without you even knowing it. It’ll take years if not decades for you to understand what really transpired in the past few months with some more yet to go before this nightmare ends.

Thought experiment:  If you could go to your 8-year-old self, what would you say to your younger version? Would she believe you?

Now imagine your 50-year-old self doing the same to you. How would you react?

If I were to tell you that the things you deem so important now will one day be utterly meaningless, would you believe me?

If I shared that kindness, courtesy, decency, and honesty are more important than wealth, power, and status, would you care?

If I could give you one gift it’s the ability to slow down and see what is really going on around you instead of getting caught up in the celebrity rat race of life, would you accept it?

Human beings are caught in a treadmill. We middle-aged types look at you and know you’re wasting about 95% of your life on things which have no value, or if anything, are actually bad for you.

Drinking? Smoking? Getting laid? Go ahead, enjoy yourself; your body can take it all now but one day it won’t because, well pal, you’re not made out of lithium. 

Go ahead and pollute your lungs, fry your brains, spend thousands of dollars chasing ass. You won’t even remember the names of those you sexed, and they won’t recall yours.

One day you’ll wake up and find the most precious thing we have is not gold, or stocks, or a big fat wallet, although they do help if you want to start a family and own a house, but something else.

Time.

You’ve got plenty of it now and because of that you’ll waste it all on the most ridiculous things possible.

Like sports, which is a complete waste of time. Human beings create and weave all kinds of schemes to suck up your money and your mental energy, but none is finer and more seductive then sports. 

It’s the greatest addiction known to human kind and, believe me, once acquired you can’t get rid of it. I’m still trying and to my dying days I’ll always wonder how the hell Manchester United is doing.

Manchester bleating United. Will knowing their success make me live longer, or better, or more productively?

Here’s an unlikely plan that you’ll never follow but one day wish you had.

Instead of waking up tomorrow morning and seeing what the day will bring, why don’t you pick some flowers and deliver them to a local retirement home? There are several in Mill Creek.

Or find somebody you really hated in high school and take that person out to coffee (don’t forget to wear your masks and practice social distancing).

Or join a Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Seattle.

Or, collect some food cans from your local neighbor and drop them off at a local food bank.

Besides enlarging your soul, you’ll learn that we live on a tiny planet, and you never know when you’ll kick the bucket.

Because of that, every day has to be lived with dignity, maturity, pride, and humility. And any of the above teaches you that.

You’re not going to change the world if you follow my recommendations, but you’ll shift it microscopically so that when others come along it’s farther down the better road than before.

Do any of these and you’ll be a better person, one for whom others may look up to and admire.

Do none of those things and your life will go comfortably along and nothing much will happen in your life until you hit 60 and then that life that you dreamt about at 18 no longer exists.

Then what?

Don’t wait for then. Start now.

And oh; start saving money, buy some safe government bonds, work your ass off at a job, and do what ever it takes to keep your teeth. A really good set of teeth takes you a long way!

Best,

Class of ‘76

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