It’s the time of year when we hear a lot of commencement addresses. I enjoy these speeches because, typically, the focus is not on personal or career success, but on leading meaningful and purpose-filled lives. It’s also about enjoying the journey on which the graduates are embarking.
Kathleen Curtin, the Executive Director of Christ Child Society of Washington, DC, addressed a group of high school graduates, and one of her comments resonated with me personally. Ms. Curtin noted that we need to celebrate successes and, more importantly, we need to redefine success. Too often, and this goes for me personally, success is defined as occurring when something is fully completed.
Many people struggle to celebrate milestones achieved on the road to an accomplishment and postpone celebrations until the final completion of whatever they are trying to accomplish. Many things we do are lifelong journeys, and if we wait to celebrate when completed, we may not be celebrating much, if at all. If you’re like me and too often only thinking about the destination rather than the journey, you should make space for celebrating the small victories and milestones along the way.
Ms. Curtin’s lesson for the graduates and anyone else listening (including me) was that life is full of hurdles, potholes, and roadblocks, and sometimes the path is difficult. Take the time to celebrate those times when you’ve accomplished something, even if it is just a small stop on your journey.
Take care and stay safe.
Saving Time: Discovering a Life Beyond the Clock by Jenny Odell
This dazzling, subversive, and deeply hopeful book offers us different ways to experience time—inspired by pre-industrial cultures, ecological cues, and geological timescales—that can bring within reach a more humane, responsive way of living. As planet-bound animals, we live inside shortening and lengthening days alongside gardens growing, birds migrating, and cliffs eroding; the stretchy quality of waiting and desire; the way the present may suddenly feel marbled with childhood memory; the slow but sure procession of a pregnancy; the time it takes to heal from injuries. Odell urges us to become stewards of these different rhythms of life in which time is not reducible to standardized units and instead forms the very medium of possibility.