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Congraduations!

Daniel P. Beckmann, BA ‘01
05.12.02-Flight 3010, between St. Louis and Washington-National, sitting down the entire last half hour.

The Graduation ceremony from college is reminiscent of some sort of bomb exploding in a large public square. At the end of the ceremony…(most of which rank about 1.5 stars out of 4 in most newspaper entertainment sections…) the bomb goes off. Immediately a huge scurry of activity ensues…you try desperately to find those that you care about to see if they’re still around and if they are alright. Many are hopefully trying to find you too. If you don’t know anybody there or don’t care about anybody there, you may be running for the exits as fast as you can screaming. There are some people that will either get buried by the rubble or just lost the struggle that you realize you will just never ever see again. After the dust settles, it occurs to you that the situation that you used to have is now in millions of different pieces and despite any efforts to reconstruct the scene back to the way it was, it will never ever quite be the same again.

This year, no body seemed incredibly happy to graduate from college. Maybe it was the redrudging-up of the Sept. 11th experience that happened over 8 months ago, but yet, every speech writer felt that they needed to put the event somewhere in their speech-and this despite the fact that it would be an almost certainty that some people would be graduating, some possibly in their audience who did not have all of their parents, family or friends with them for this milestone because of what happened Sept. 11th. But these people brought it up again anyway, despite the fact that its been 8 months, a lot has happened since then and a lot actually did happen before Sept. 11th-maybe this is just evidence that our universities didn’t do a good job of mentioning things that happened before Sept. 11th until after words, because now that 8 months have passed some shit has come to light that we should have at least been aware that surprise attacks on civilians do happen-even to rich unsuspecting people, not just poor smelly people anymore.

Maybe everyone was sad because more people applied to graduate school this season because of the horrible outlook for the economy after Sept. 11th than ever before. This meant that more people were getting rejected from graduate school who normally should have gotten in than ever before.

Maybe everyone was sad because unlike when we entered college, jobs are not trying to find us, we have to try to find them. Countless heads over in the business school across this great land, that used to rely on working their gel-haired asses off on their way to their millions by age 35 at some consultant company were this year locked out-With Andersen®(because their company is run by evil people) firing thousands of employees and flooding the marketplace with tons of overqualified people, while not hiring any additional people themselves, the perennial jeers at the Business school from the schools of Art, Arts and Sciences and other less capitalistic entities must have stung a little harder to the money grubbers this year.

Yes, there were plenty of reasons to be sad this graduation year, but they come up with plenty of reasons to be sad every year, most having to do with, most people having something completely scheduled for them up until this point and now they have to maybe make a decision for themselves and that outcome of that decision may or may not make them unhappy.<–Yes they call it accountability.

There was one notable happy constituency attending the graduation-the parents. Some may say the collective parent look was one of pride, maybe even one of relief…in some cases is was one of awkwardness as suddenly being not only reunited with your child for a weekend after they have been out of the coop for a while, but also a look of awkwardness steming from the other friends, family or former loved-ones who are be attracted your child’s important milestone.

But then the parents left…and although many paid for elaborate dinners and new Blue ‘87 Chevy Camaros while they were there.. most parents gave another gift that your 16 year-old self so desperately wanted shortly after they departed-to finally be left alone. After the parents left for the weekend, all that was left to deal with was the rest of our lives.

There were many speeches given to this class of 2002, and since I am not a member of this class anymore(but most of my peers still reside there) since I cut out in 2001, I come maybe with a fresh perspective on this issue.

After being out in the real world, at least for me I realized that it was indeed actually more fake than even college. In college I read books with information and I talked about it. I didn’t really care who I offended and I didn’t have to. Outside of college most people are just full of shit and feel threatened when you challenge their opinions-when you first get out of college, you will probably not start out at the top, and the robots will make you care-that’s their job.

With this in mind, you yourself maybe confronted by some overwhelming forces, or maybe it was just me that was felt them, but you may want to humor me for a moment that these forces may attempt to consume you at some point too. When I left and went off to attend the Corporate School of Journalism… I was confronted by a breed of people who were trying to impress upon me that life is a series of planned events-a process of experiences in which every person must go through that will eventually lead up until death. This may be the case for a lot of the robotic people in the universe, but if you are one of those who are a bit worried about surrendering your freedom of thought and journey just yet, let me give you a tip to save your soul.

Those who are worried right now that college was the best time of their lives are simply arrested by that thought. No matter what time period of your life you may live as long as you are creative and indeed creating, than you can and will enjoy where you are at becuase you are creating it. That is unless you are the type of person who only enjoys rows of houses with kegs and wet t-shirt contests and the well structured games of how to waste your time here on this planet away the fastest most capitalistic way possible. For you all, I suggest a remedy so that you too may enjoy the rest of your life after college->It’s called Girls Gone Wild for the guys and Guys flying off of roofs and then smashing into tables for the ladies out there. There’s nothing wrong with these videos and if you play along at home, I am sure they should suffice for whatever craving you might have if you close your mind enough. As for the rest of us, I suggest you simply continue to create as you may even realize that you have all along and everything little things its gonna be all right…trust me.

One good thing that can come from all of this, is that if you truly feel sad or unsettled right now, than something indeed happened to you over the last 3-4 years that was worthy of being missed. As your friends begin to disperse, hopefully by this point on the journey, you either have established friends that you actually like or your have established the type of people that either you like or quite possibly that don’t like you. In any event, since this has been defined, as you travel the country or just stay home, your friends that you love will hopefully share with you their friends that they love and as opposed to college, you may actually be able to attempt to experience the company of only the highest quality people during throughout the entire duration of your diminished amount of free time that you may now have available. No more excess baggage that smells bad, and if you are still carrying it around, now is probably the best time to jettison it. As opposed to when you entered college, you were probably thrust into a group of friends by a on-campus geographical region decided by some random or not so random computer assignment. Now you are the architect-for the first time in your life you may now get to make some sort of educated decision about who and where you want to associate yourself with.

The other good thing about this point in life, is that people may actually have some idea who they are at this point so you don’t have to deal with all of the shallowness of mind that you may have encountered during Freshman->Sophomore->Junior->Senior years…
So to conclude I now proclomate on this May 12th in the year 2002 of their lord:

Dear Mr. Chancellor of the esteemed academic institution:
We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday for whatever it was we did wrong.
But we think you’re crazy to make an essay telling you who we think we are.
You see us as you want to see us… In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions.

But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain…
…and an athlete…
…and a basket case…
…a princess…
…and a criminal…

Does that answer your question?

Sincerely yours, the Young Americans.

-Musical Context-
Don’t You Forget About Me


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