To My Brother Upon His Graduation

To my brother and (if they feel like reading) the class of 2012,

You have done it. Congratulations! Thirteen long years have resulted in a diploma. Here are some things you should know.

First, a lot of people are going to try to give you advice. Don’t pay attention to it. Maybe that makes me sound like a jerk. But here’s the thing. One, you should probably pick and choose the advice you follow anyway. And two, at the end of the day, you aren’t going to follow advice. So I’m freeing you from it. Just make up your mind now. At some point in the next part of your life, you are going to remember the words someone wrote on a graduation card to you, and you are going to ignore them. Revel in it.

The next part of your life is not the best. The last four years of your life were not the best. Life should be lived somewhere where you are trying to make each day better than the last. The last day of your life should be your best. You still have some ways to go.

Don’t buy into the real world/childhood dichotomy. You have been in the real world for a while. Thirty year olds still watch cartoons and play video games. Seventeen year olds are beating cancer. Think about that.

Always act as if you have a ton to learn. When you are an expert in something, you will know because people will want to learn something from you. Until then, ask a lot of questions.

Remember that for four years, you mostly got along with a group of 300 something people. That’s amazing. I’m lucky if I get along with a couple of people every week. Remember that no matter how much you disagree with someone, they were a teenager once, too. They once struggled awkwardly through a first kiss and stayed up too late on a school night and tried that thing with the Pop Rocks and the Coke. Believe in humanity.

As much as you can, stay away from anger. All anger will do is make enemies out of friends. There are already too many enemies in the world.

Sometimes, you won’t be able to avoid anger. When that happens, remember that you are angry at ideas, behaviors, and situations not at souls.

Find something to believe in. Believe in it wholeheartedly. If it turns out you are wrong, believe in something else.

As Relient K Says, We Should Get Jerseys

When I was in the fifth grade, we had these teen mentors that came from the high school. I think their purpose was to get us all ready for junior high and the halfway high school things we would experience there like kissing and truth-or-dare sleepovers. They railed against peer pressure and taught us about character. I was totally into that sort of thing. I’m still into that sort of thing. I wish I had an adult mentor or something now.

Anyway, we had a boy and a girl. And I remember that our class was obsessed with the fictional idea that they were dating. We used to put questions in the anonymous question box about it. The girl would always answer. She would blush a whole lot and then talk about how great of friends they were, but no, they weren’t dating.

I’ve been thinking about that idea a lot because I am now a leader volunteering with middle school students. And I wonder if they have fictional ideas about my love life.

I think the tendency of kids to think a boy and girl team are dating actually tells us a lot about love in a really simple sort of way. In college, I see a lot of people thinking that love is having a warm body with which to cuddle, or having somebody to whom to complain, or having someone with whom to go on dates.

None of those conceptions really gets to the heart of the matter, though. The married couples I see as successful and the relationships that I admire are the ones that operate like a two-person team. Love is a beautiful, half-choreographed, half-improvised dance duet.

Children understand this. That’s why when they see a boy and a girl working efficiently together, they assume dating status. At some point we forget it, though. We get caught up in doing the same-old Electric Slide and never really think about the beauty of creating something new and original with another person.

I Wish I Went to High School with Isaac

I don’t talk to many of my friends from high school anymore. It’s a bit of a shame because they are all really cool people, and they would all probably be a really good influence on me. Most of them are all super responsible, routinely get to bed before midnight, and know what they want to do with their lives.

I do this thing, though, when I am having a bad day. I cyber-stalk all of my high school friends. I do it because it makes me feel worse about myself. It’s the same line of reasoning that makes girls watch chick flicks right after they have been dumped. My high school friends are all incredibly put together people who are mindful enough not to be internet downers. It’s probably not true that their lives are perfect (because no one’s is) but that’s the way it seems to me.

It’s all really self-indulgent and annoyingly embarrassing that I do all of this.  I probs shouldn’t even be sharing it with you.

Anyway, I was reading some Genesis the other day. And I got to the part where Isaac meets Rebekah for the first time. A little background for you:  1. Isaac was 40 years old when he wedded Rebekah. I’m not sure how the whole maturing into adulthood thing worked in the Bible because, you know, people were living to be 175 and stuff, but we have that whole movie The Forty Year Old Virgin. That movie is funny because it is absurd to think that someone so old would be a virgin.

2. Isaac didn’t know Rebekah was coming. Abraham (Isaac’s father) sent his servant to find his son a wife.

So for over fifty verses leading up to the meeting, the narration has been focused on Rebekah. We don’t know what Isaac is up to. And the first mention we get about him is this:

Now Isaac had returned from Beer-lahai-roi and was dwelling in the Negeb. And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening. And he lifted up his eyes and saw, and behold, there were camels coming. (Genesis 24:62-3)

Isaac was meditating when Rebekah came! He wasn’t worrying that as a forty year old he was doomed to be alone. He wasn’t stressing out about if he was ever going to get married. He wasn’t waiting for a wife. He wasn’t cyber stalking his friends and self-indulgently comparing himself to them. No, he was meditating. He was spending time with God. He was enjoying a beautiful evening.

I think I should be a bit more like Isaac.