The venerable old synagogue in Park Slope, Brooklyn has seen a lot of life. It’s known joy and sorrow and been a part of its community for about 150 years. Recently, my granddaughter’s high school class used the sanctuary to hold its graduation, a time of celebration and just a little sorrow.
My tears were prompted as the grads filed in and I heard the familiar grand strains of Pomp and Circumstance played by the school band. I don’t remember crying at my own daughters’ graduations, but with more time on my side, this graduation was a significant marker of time, as my first grandchild reached college age.
I thought back to my own graduation. About all I recall is the handknit dress I wore; a white ribbon confection that my mother had worked on for months. I felt excitement on the occasion because it marked the end of my life living at home. Dreams? Mainly just of living in a sunny, tropical environment, studded with sparkling beaches and exotic palm trees. Sad to say, there was nothing more defined in my mind than that. Career? Few options existed for a girl graduating a small town high school in the 1950’s. The mantra I’d been fed and swallowed was go to college and live happily ever after in a blissful marriage to a nice Jewish boy. Actually, with a few additions, it worked out quite well!!
Today, the dreams of my granddaughter know no boundaries. How delicious.
I spent the summer of my graduation counting down the days to college and lustily singing Beyond the Blue Horizon, when I was driving alone in my parent’s car. The emphasis was on “Goodbye to things that bore me.” At that time, it was sufficient to know that everything that felt written in stone in my life would soon change. In case you’re unfamiliar with the inspiring lyrics, here they are:
BEYOND THE BLUE HORIZON
Beyond the blue horizon Waits a beautiful day
Goodbye to things that bore me Joy is waiting for me
I see a new horizon My life has only begun
Beyond the blue horizon Lies a rising sun.
I think Johnny Mathis did a cover of it.
The tinge of sadness I felt at my granddaughter’s graduation came from the deep understanding that time is moving very swiftly. “It seemed like yesterday…” was the phrase that hovered just behind the experience itself.
The graduation photos being posted on Facebook are ubiquitous and look uncannily alike, no matter the family or setting. Smiling kids, smiling families. For the lucky kids, there will be years ahead of stimulating intellectual and personal growth. Disappointments will be moderated by the continued support of teachers, friends and family. For others, not as lucky, life will be less forgiving. But for now, advice abounds to “reach for the stars”, “embrace fear”, and “blaze a path forward” where others fear to tread.
Now, as the cameras click and capture the excitement, my wish to all graduates is that they discover, on the road ahead, new paths for self expression, inspiration and self realization. From the inevitable setbacks, may they learn that “This too shall pass.”
And it goes without saying, may all graduates know a world at peace, with love, generosity and respect for all.