(words of advice for college graduates … + the starfish poem)
Words of Advice for Graduates & The Starfish Poem
Update >> Since graduation season is once again upon us, we have decided to republish this post since it seems as relevant six years later as the day we wrote it. In those six years, Daniel has gone on to forge a distinguished career in education. And, in my ever so humble opinion, he truly is heeding his commencement speaker’s advice and both doing something that matters & helping to save the world. And while I am at it, I want to congratulate two of my nieces who are graduating this spring, Jennifer with her MS in School Counseling and Angela with a BSEd in Education and her teacher certification. Two more graduates who have chosen to go into education to make a difference, one child at a time!
My son, along with his peers from across the country, graduated from college this year. Our family had the honor of listening to Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy in the Obama administration, deliver the Washington University of St Louis commencement address. Chu, in his own uniquely charming and witty way, told the graduates his “take home message to you will be just one sentence. Actually, it will be just four words.”
“Do something that matters.”
and then Chu added
“Help save the world.“
What does this have to do with party planning. Absolutely nothing, Except maybe this post will help you find the right words of advice to pass on to future graduates either in person or in a card. The best party is not only beautiful and festive, it is also meaningful. Although not often considered, it is in fact the responsibility of each guest to add meaning to the celebration — sometimes all it takes is a few well chosen words.
So leave your cynicism at home — remember “a cynic can chill and dishearten with a single word.” (Ralph Walso Emerson) We must allow this new set of graduates to have their hand at making a difference. They will choose for themselves what matters.…
Finally, a quick thank you to my son, Daniel, and to my good friend, Katy, for inspiring this post and for introducing me to the The Starfish Poem! Feel free to print this out, frame it and gift it to your favorite graduates.
THE STARFISH POEM
Once upon a time there was a wise man
who used to go to the ocean
to do his writing.
He had a habit of walking
on the beach
before he began his work.
One day he was walking along
As he looked down the beach,
he saw a human
figure moving like a dancer.
He smiled to himself to think
of someone who would
dance to the day.
So he began to walk faster
to catch up.
As he got closer, he saw
that it was a young man
and the young man wasn’t dancing,
but instead he was reaching
down to the shore,
picking up something
and very gently throwing it
into the ocean.
As he got closer he called out,
“Good morning! What are you doing?”
The young man paused,
looked up and replied,
“Throwing starfish in the ocean.”
“I guess I should have asked,
why are you throwing starfish in the ocean?”
“The sun is up and the tide is going out.
And if I don’t throw them in they’ll die.”
“But, young man, don’t you realize that
there are miles and miles of beach
and starfish all along it.
You can’t possibly make a difference!”
The young man listened politely.
Then bent down, picked up another starfish
and threw it into the sea,
past the breaking waves and said-
“It made a difference for that one.”
Based on “The Star Thrower” by Loren Eiseley