There are a lot of rough jobs in this world. Street sweeper at an elephant parade. Quality control for a parachute manufacturer. Speech coach for Bob Dylan.
But the roughest job of all may be the one inaugurated this weekend in our own backyard. Commencement speaker at a Lyons High School graduation.
Think about it.
What on earth do you say?
This is the class that saw its school turned into an island and its hometown into a CNN breaking news clip. These are the kids from the town that left town, the community that water couldn’t kill, the students who will never, ever again use the phrase “God willin’ and the creek don’t rise.”
What can you possibly tell them that they don’t already know? Especially within the tried-and-true themes of a high school graduation.
“Your entire world may change tomorrow and you have to be ready to change with it.” No kidding.
“Think back to when this school year began…” Um, maybe not.
“Be part of your community and ready to give back.” Can we get back to you on that? We’re running late to a Lyons Strong event.
Let’s face it. Life lessons have not exactly been in short supply around here. Once you cross off everything that the St. Vrain Flood made redundant, you might as well just give everyone two Dr. Seuss quotes, one proverb from Mr. Rogers, and then pass the paper and toss the hats.
After all, if you can’t listen to a 20-minute speech that might change your life (see vendor for details, satisfaction not guaranteed, void where prohibited), then what’s the point of a graduation ceremony?
OK, you can stop laughing.
No, I don’t remember the speech at my graduation. I’m betting you don’t, either. Commencement speeches have been pretty much fired and forgotten ever since David addressed the Israelite class of 1020 B.C. (“In a world of giant obstacles, sometimes life really rocks!”)
They don’t stay with us. They don’t need to. Deep down, every senior knows the real theme of every graduation since the beginning of time. And it’s one that might as well be an LHS class motto.
We survived homework, exams, pop quizzes and the worst indignities our teachers could inflict.
We survived our own stupidity, our social life, and that moment with the lasagna in 10th grade that no one would let us forget.
And now, this senior class can say, we survived a flood that would make Noah look for a nice place in the Andes.
We outlasted. We persevered. We made it.
Even in the face of the worst that nature could do.
Between you and me, I think every school in this area should have a Lyons High School grad as a commencement speaker next year. These are the masters of disaster, and if anyone knows how to take the next step into an uncertain world, it’s them.
But then, it’s not really something you can say, is it? It’s something you do. Something you pass on by sheer, stubborn example.
And that example is now on stage for everyone to see.
You survived. And then some.
Good luck to all of you. And mind the elephants on the way out.