The Union Recorder

May 11, 2013

COLUMN: Life is a rain or shine event; so bring a towel just in case

Mike Rowland
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — Last weekend was graduation at my alma mater, and I just wanted to take the opportunity to congratulate my good friends Kenny and Renee Herrin on seeing their son, Brendan, graduate from college.  

Brendan is a first generation college graduate, and I can only imagine how proud it must have made his family feel to see him complete that milestone in his life.

Brendan is a chemist, and I can assure him that chemistry graduates from Georgia College are well prepared to take on the “real word” as those of us over 50 like to put it. I can attest to that fact since I have a GCSU chemist of my own.  

In fact, I have two degrees from GC and Mama has one. My sister and her husband have graduate degrees from there as well … come to think of it, my family has invested a lot of money in Georgia's Public Liberal Arts University.

Of course I can't really keep the name straight. It was Georgia College, the Georgia College & State University, and now I think it is back to Georgia College. But then, what's in a name?

Speaking of graduation, if you were anywhere in Georgia last weekend, you know it rained like it was Noah's birthday. Mama and I didn't go to graduation, per se, but we did ride by just to see if it was actually being held.

Troopers all, front campus was crawling with graduates, parents and family. I know it must have been a little inconvenient, but the whole get your diploma in the rain experience made for some great memories.

I do, however, have a bone to pick with Georgia College over this year's commencement ceremony.  

I am sure you know that it is traditional to have a keynote speaker at commencement. I did some research, which is not one of my favorite things to do, just to get a feel for the more notable speaker tour.

Pres. Barak Obama delivered the commencement address at The Ohio State University. I guess with the football program in shambles, the home of Woody Hayes hit a homerun by securing the President.

UGA's graduation will be today, and my good friend and great American Pat Schofill, along with his wife Mona, will watch their son Case don the ole' regalia. It is my understanding that U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss is slated to deliver pearls of wisdom to the academic side of the Bulldawg Nation.  

Pat has a family camping trip planned to the North Carolina Mountains following the turning of the tassel. If I heard correctly, this is a primitive type event that includes tents, sleeping bags, no electricity, and maybe running water.

Trudy and I got invited, and you don't know just how badly I wanted to go. A trip like that has to be good for about a month of newspaper columns.  

I have looked at the weather forecast, however, and I'm thinking tents are going to turn into motel rooms in a hurry. Stay tuned for the latest developments.

Soledad O'Brien got the nod at Agnes Scott College in Decatur. Soledad is an Emmy award-winning journalist for CNN. I'm not sure how significant that is, but it did emerge from my research.

By the way, Georgia Tech split its undergraduate ceremony into two parts. It seems engineers have a thing for making the simple complicated. You guessed it. They had two speakers, neither name of which I recognized.

I have no idea who the speaker was at the Georgia College graduation, but I have to say my feelings were a little hurt that I didn't at least get the cursory invite. I couldn't have made it because Mama and I have a standing Saturday morning date at Waffle House, but it's the thought that counts.

I read a headline that proclaimed the essence of Pres. Obama's remarks as daring graduates to do better. Simple but profound, although I was left with the question, doing better than what?  

So I figure if there is anything cool about having your own newspaper column, then it must be that I can pretend to deliver a rousing inspirational message to this year's college graduates. My mother always said I have a vivid imagination.

So to the college graduates of 2013, I thought the graduate-in- the-rain experience was really a metaphor for life. Sometimes you work really, really hard with a mental image of how school, or a job, or a relationship will turn out only to discover that the experience is dampened by reality.

By the way, reality is overrated. There is plenty of it to go around, so find ways to develop a little fantasy in your life.

Contrary to what you may be told, you are the greatest generation. I can't keep straight the difference between Baby Boomers, Millennials, Gen X or Gen Y. I know you guys have some kind of hip name, but it escapes me.

What I do know is that you have the most remarkable talents of any generation yet. Part of the world sees you as lazy, disconnected and self-centered.  

I, on the other hand, believe you have skills and talents that are so far removed from what my generation experienced that those of us over 50 cannot begin to fathom your intelligence. I know this is true because we mimic your passion for all things electronic.  

We criticize you for being impatient and aloof, yet we secretly admire your demand for instant gratification because we know it will lead to better things faster. We claim your self-centeredness is a flaw, but we salute you for volunteering to serve your country in record numbers at a time when harm's way is more than just a catch phrase.

The road to the future is not paved with gold or good intentions. It is paved with hard work and dedication. If you are graduating from college this year, you have endured fewer jobs, lower wages, volatile politics and a focus on terrorism.

Still, you have accomplished much in the face of adversity. And the best is yet to come.

Oh, and just remember this: A little rain is bound to come your way. After all, life is a rain or shine event; so bring a towel just in case.