Jeremy Steiner: At end of one journey, graduates start next

Some advice for young adults from four great minds and a bit of difficult wisdom for parents, too.

By Jeremy Steiner / Herald Forum

Congratulations to the class of 2022! For students and their parents, this is a special time to celebrate a significant stage in maturing, mark a major milestone and most importantly decide the direction of your life.

To assist on that front, here’s some advice from a few of the greatest leaders for the graduates this year. Mark Twain said: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” And now your journey begins to pursue why.

Years before most of you were born, Ronald Reagan in 1964 delivered one of his most famous speeches: “A Time for Choosing.” In it, he stated that we “have the ability and the dignity and the right to make our own decisions and determine our own destiny.”

And now is your time for your choosing. Your decisions will direct the rest of your life. During this time you will soon encounter on your own two strange things: chances and choices. As your life changes, both of these will be consequential when you face and conquer challenges.

The first is somewhat easy since you have no control over it. Opportunities will occur and luck will come; may you have the wisdom to see and seize them. The second is tough stuff. Life is full of unclear and unknown roads. As Bob Dylan sang in “Forever Young”: “May you have a strong foundation when the winds of changes shift.”

Three years after Reagan’s address, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a dynamic speech to students in Philadelphia. He told them “this is the most important and crucial period of your lives. For what you do now and what you decide now at this age may well determine which way your life shall go. And once you discover what it will be, set out to do it, and to do it well.

Easy to say, difficult to figure out. As you attempt to find out your path, never fear failure. The most successful failed for years before finding a way to fame and fortune.

Wherever your paths take you, as President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed in Paris: Always be be the one “who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

And one last piece of advice for parents; it’s simple to say, yet hard to do: Let them go.

Jeremy Steiner is executive producer for the nationally syndicated Michael Medved radio show. He is the proud father of Madison and uncle of Alec Rust; both graduates of Edmonds Woodway High School, Class of 2022.

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