Today is graduation day for the high school here in town. It reminds me of various graduation days past. I remember my high school, when people stood up and yelled "we survived!" meaning no one in our class died (first class to survive all four years without a death in about a decade). I remember my undergraduate graduation with Ted Turner's speech, "Hey, look at me: I've made millions with cable companies, I own the Braves, and you could do that, too... except we're all going to be blown up by the North Koreans before you get the chance! Happy Graduation!" (I swear that's a paraphrase of his entire speech). I remember my Masters graduation when my friend we all elected to give our speech used conference talks to give great advice to us.
Graduation days have a way of making a profound image in our lives, "Something big happened there." The fact is, though, it happened in the preceding days, months, and years. The date itself is simply a marker of completion. It stands as a demarcation, "Before this date, I did not have..." and "After this date, I had...." whatever recognition was received. They are beautiful moments in many cases, truly, but they are not where the achievement happens. They're mile markers in the road map of life. After school, such mile markers become more vague, or at least more personal. Wedding dates, the births of children, passing important tests... those all stand out to the few people involved, but they hold little importance to anyone else.
Lives begin to take their own paths. Certainly roads can occasionally cross, or even merge for a time, but each family - and within it, each individual - begins to cut its own way through the world. My mind has been on such things a lot lately, as we prepare to leave this familiar road we've been on for so long and head off into the great unknown. Our little family will quickly be on five different paths - me at school, my daughter at school, my wife possibly at school, and my sons continuing to progress at home until they start school, too. We will each find new milestones on our own, some of which we will share and care about together, but many of which will be extremely personal. I look forward to that future. I also realize we must take great care not to lose each other along the way.