Yesterday, I had the privilege to speak at a religious school graduation. The graduates were completing 7th grade. As I was preparing my thoughts and started writing, I realized, very quickly that what I was going to say applied, not only to them but to all of us. Here is a revised version of my speech.
Milestones. According to the dictionary, a milestone is defined as a significant event in life. Today, all of you have reached a milestone. You are soon to be graduates of the Sandberg Religious. It is one of many milestones you will reach during your lives. Bar or Bat Mitzvah, getting your driver’s license, entering high school and graduating and hopefully going on to college – and the list goes on and on.
Reaching milestones and attaining goals and accomplishing what you set out to do is important and quite special.
Did you know that as soon as you start to think about a goal or talk about it or write it down or see yourself accomplishing it…you’ve started on your trek?
And as important as goals are, what I would ask of you is to be mindful of the process…the journey of reaching your goals…each step along the way.
Many years ago I clipped out a short story from the newspaper – The Station by Robert J. Hastings. I loved it so much that I put it in my wallet and when I open my wallet, I see it and remember the message I got from it. It talks about our lives as a train ride and uppermost in our minds is the final destination and when we reach the station, we will find happiness and joy. But on our trip, there are lots of stops along the way and delays…but we must get to the station.
Here is The Station.*
The Station by Robert J. Hastings
TUCKED AWAY in our subconscious minds is an idyllic vision in which we see ourselves on a long journey that spans an entire continent. We're traveling by train and, from the windows, we drink in the passing scenes of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at crossings, of cattle grazing in distant pastures, of smoke pouring from power plants, of row upon row upon row of cotton and corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of city skylines and village halls.
But uppermost in our conscious minds is our final destination--for at a certain hour and on a given day, our train will finally pull into the station with bells ringing, flags waving, and bands playing. And once that day comes, so many wonderful dreams will come true. So restlessly, we pace the aisles and count the miles, peering ahead, waiting, waiting, waiting for the station.
"Yes, when we reach the station ,that will be it!" we promise ourselves. "When we're eighteen. . . win that promotion. . . put the last kid through college. . . buy that 450SL Mercedes-Benz. . . have a nest egg for retirement!"
From that day on we will all live happily ever after. Sooner or later, however, we must realize there is no station in this life, no one earthly place to arrive at once and for all. The journey is the joy. The station is an illusion--it constantly outdistances us. Yesterday's a memory, tomorrow's a dream. Yesterday belongs to a history, tomorrow belongs to God. Yesterday's a fading sunset, tomorrow's a faint sunrise. Only today is there light enough to love and live.
So, gently close the door on yesterday and throw the key away. It isn't the burdens of today that drive men mad, but rather regret over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who would rob us of today.
"Relish the moment" is a good motto, especially when coupled with Psalm 118:24, "This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." So stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, swim more rivers, climb more mountains, kiss more babies, count more stars. Laugh more and cry less. Go barefoot oftener.
Eat more ice cream. Ride more merry-go-rounds. Watch more sunsets. Life must be lived as we go along. The station will come soon enough.
The message I take from The Station is that if we don’t enjoy the trip and all it has to offer, appreciating each and every day—reaching “the station” is empty, as is the journey.
Don’t forget about how you got to where you are and keep looking forward to where you are going. And as you look beyond today’s graduation, your energy, positive attitude, resolve and a plan of attack will get you to all of your next milestones. One of my favorite quotes by one of my favorite writers, Anonymous is:
“A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events, and outcomes.
It is a catalyst, a spark that creates extraordinary results.”
You can and will create that spark and you will see extraordinary results throughout your lives.
*I didn’t read The Station to the graduates; I thought I would include it for you.