Significant life events have the tendency of displacing me in time. They stand out as these singular events, pillars elevated from the rest of our journey with seemingly no connecting paths. I like to think of them as time lily pads. We have all experienced the feeling of disbelief, shock, amazement when we are standing some place and think:
How did I get here?
Teleportation? Time Travel? Some other method worthy of H.G. Well’s lore. Surely. You look around and see those that love you and support you and slowly moments start to trickle back into your conscious mind. The late nights at the library leaving droll puddles on text books, the scantily clad laboratory sessions, the long written exams, the laughter, the joy, the disappointment, the heart ache, the triumphs, successes, and failures. Each minor moment is attached to this grand one in time be it fixed firmly like a mortared stone or tenuously hanging in the threads of your memory.
When I stood on stage Friday May 16th to deliver my address to my friends, family, and fellow graduates I became unstuck in time. I recall sitting in the very same auditorium the last 2 years as an usher, and at those times I made a mental note that with each subsequent year, I would be back here but in a very different capacity.
Here I am.
Before my speech, I went and changed from my formal cocktail dress into my “first day of school shirt”…not only the one I wore when I met my classmates for the first time, but the shirt I wore for many, many, many (!) first days of school.
” While I am certain I have a lot of learning still ahead of me, I quite possibly have no more “first days of school.” So, considering the symmetry of beginnings and ends, as we close this chapter… a new exciting one is about to begin, today I am dressed like, and just about as nervous and giddy as I was on my first day of high school, college, graduate school, and certainly my first day at George Washington.”
As I continued to address my GW family, I became a bit more grounded…remembering when and where in time I was. Unbeknownst to those sitting and listening to my speech, each person had a little origami crane tapped to the bottom of their seat.
I reflected upon how we all started as as beautifully unique but flat piece of paper, slowly gaining creases, dimension, and perspective. Every once in a while we had to unfold, start over, and try again. At the time, unfolding felt like the end of the world. We didn’t realize that these were guiding lines for steps further in the future that we weren’t even aware of yet. We were just making stronger creases, creases that made those subsequent steps easier.
Then I directed everyone to look under their seats. Without hesitation, everyone found their little birds waiting for them.
Each step was important, the folding, the unfolding, the frustrations and the triumphs. Together we have created something beautiful and this is where the analogy ends because although I wanted to give you the gift of this symbolic bird, what we have is not static. We have an incredible gift, it is a promise that with each moment, each triumph and set back we have the capacity inside of us to grow stronger, smarter, and more compassionate. Just like we did with each step on our journey that brought us here today.
Congratulations to all Graduates of the class of 2014 !
Remember, cherish all the folding and unfolding, you are making something very beautiful.