, Salem, MA


May 28, 2013

Column: A letter to the graduating class of 2013


My generation will leave to you great burdens that situational apathy will not cure. The cost of more than a decade of war, of the unrelenting push for more energy, more technology, more material wealth, has ripped apart the connections that once made us whole. The local coffee shop is now a chain, the market a food conglomerate, the novelty shop a collection of broken spirits from factories thousands of miles and oceans away. These realities have created the perception that we have never been more focused on me-ness at the expense of all others as we are today. But like the student who comes early and stays late to help others, you can choose a different path.

Changing the definition of success won’t be easy, but it will be fun. So many opportunities await you. You need to start by destroying the traditional markers of success prior generations use to judge you. How many square feet satisfy your definition of success? How many figures should your salary be? Do high-end cars really mean you’ve done well? Only you can answer these questions. Start by replacing them; how much is experience worth to you? Learn to play the piano, to paint, to dance. Instead of setting down your brand new smart phone to work more hours, use an older model and use your saved time to take an ice skating lesson, volunteer anywhere, go to a crowded place and eat vanilla pudding out of a mayonnaise jar. You can plant trees, write long letters, stick your hands deep into April mud, January snow; eat escargot, and travel, travel, travel. See anything and everything you can without the glow of a touch screen. And love, love your family, your friends, and those you do not yet know.

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