Attention, graduating seniors! Clip and save this column. You will be grateful for the sage advice and inspiration herein when, months from now, you come home from a hard day at your new career or when you are taking a brief study break in your dorm room.
Lol, Aunt Martha.
I know, right? Why do so many old people feel entitled, not to mention qualified, to bore each year's graduating class with trite, preachy cliches? Who needs to hear all that? And anyway, who can concentrate? It's too hot.
Not that I didn't advise my daughter when she was a high school senior.
What a waste, was the way I looked at it, to have spent my youth blundering along, resolutely shunning the counsel of my elders and learning things the hard way, if no one benefits from my experience!
I have already made all of these mistakes, I told Molly. You might want to avoid these particular pitfalls and try something new. I felt sometimes that she wasn't giving me her full attention.
Many of us Baby Boomers are uncomfortable in the role of youth adviser. We try, but even in our most eloquent moments, somewhere in the back of our minds a little voice is mocking us.
"Never trust anyone over 30!" it screams. "Right on! Off the pig! If it feels good, do it!"
Our sloganeering days are behind us now, and we no longer believe exactly as we did during the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.
For example, we would never now refer to law enforcement officers as pigs. We Boomers feel that today's law enforcement officers are all very nice young men and women. (SO young! They seem to get younger every year.)
Still, while we sometimes try to fake it, the Woodstock generation lacks the deep conviction of personal rectitude once enjoyed by adults. It's as if we used up our quota of self-righteousness when we were young, during the famous greening of America.
Here is a typical Boomer/teen conversation:
Boomer: Now, when I was your age, we used to, well.
Teen: You used to what?
Boomer: Yes sirree, back in my day, we ...
Teen: You did what?
Boomer: Never you mind.
Teen: Well, whatever it was, I bet you looked pretty trendy in your bell bottoms.
Boomer: Don't you have an exam to study for?
Maybe things haven't changed all that much. Adults, after all, have traditionally deplored the music, dress, hair styles, language and pastimes of the young, while conveniently overlooking their own youthful excesses. And the young have always tried to demonstrate independence by shocking their elders. The extreme body piercing and tattooing of large tracts of skin indulged in by some may appear scandalous to older generations, but it must be hard for young people to startle a group of people who once - well. People who used to - never mind.
Many older people are actually mystified by how good today's kids are, compared to - well. I asked a Keene Central School staff member, "Are high-school students just getting better at hiding their activities?"
She answered, "No. I think they really are that good."
Were I to give any advice at all to this year's graduating class, I'd say don't worry about charting the entire course of your life right now. That can be paralyzing. You will find out as you go along what's out there in the big world and what you want your place in it to be.
If, on the other hand, you already have the rest of your life mapped out, congratulations and good luck.
What else? Never start something you can't finish, always finish what you start, but don't throw good money after bad. Penny wise, pound foolish, but save your pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves. Did you know they don't use pennies anymore in Canada?
You only live once, and nothing ventured, nothing gained, so just do it; but then again, discretion is the better part of valor and fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Trust your gut, follow your heart, use your head, wise up, chill.
Make love not war, power to the people, give peace a chance, rock 'n' roll never forgets. ... Oh dear, there's that irritating little voice again! Let's wrap this up.
Don't fret about the future. As a great philosopher once said, we'll burn that bridge when we come to it. You'll be fine.
Have a good life! And remember, we love you.