A message to the Class of 2021

From this perspective

You have achieved a milestone in your life and this graduation event indicates just that. We enthusiastically commend you. We too have been there, done that, and we know what it takes to get to this very point in your life. We commend you for YOUR accomplishments and achievements, your determination and will and your eagerness to put your creative working energy to the wheel of life tasks. We want to share with you several core thoughts … person to person.

In a sense, today is the beginning of a new day for you. Think about it … somewhere out there in the future … some of the finest buildings, highways and bridges are yet to be built; YOU MAY BE THE ONE TO BUILD THEM. Some of the most profound and in depth scientific and medical findings are yet to be found and YOU MAY FIND THEM. Some of the greatest pictures are yet to be painted; YOU MAY PAINT THEM. Some of the finest prose and musical selections are yet to be written; YOU MAY WRITE THEM. And, some of the most thoughtful and dedicated people are yet to be identified; YOU may be one so identified. In short “Let each become all of which he or she is capable.”

There is a whole world out there waiting … waiting for someone or somebody to help to make a difference in the life of just one person. YOU may be that person who can make just such a difference. And so, as you go on your way throughout your life, in whatever capacity you find yourself, we want to share several principles you may find useful.

The first principle is … what it takes to succeed in life is ordinary and incredibly simple but it won’t be easy. We urge you to do ordinary things, but do them in extraordinary ways. Work hard in whatever you do and you will find a level of success and satisfaction.

A second principle is … listen to your conscience. Your heart is a compass which, in many ways, guides you as you chart your course in yet uncharted waters. There is an ocean of possibilities that awaits all of us. Chart your course with a positive attitude, determination, and perseverance. Persist and strive to be all of which you are capable of being.

The third principle is particularly poignant today. You know you may have found yourself poor, disadvantaged, and see yourself as one who lives on the “other side of the tracks.” You may have thought of yourself as unpopular, unwanted, or unloved. But much of this feeling, we have found, builds the character of a person. It builds a quality of kindness and understanding for others. Take pride in yourself, and your heritage, and your background. Your heritage is that ingredient that makes you so richly and distinctly “YOU.”

And principle Number four centers on criticism. Display courage, persistence and resilience in the face of criticism. The trouble is with most of us, we would rather be ruined by praise than to be saved by criticism. You know, constructive criticism is an important protein of growth, personal development, a building block to success and happiness. Criticism is not always meant to be hurtful or harmful; it may seem that way, for sure. Truly, it can be uniquely helpful; rely upon it, treasure it.

And the fifth principle we have found most useful: avoid holding grudges or being angry for too long. Too soon, its twin brother “depression” joins “anger” and with that combination of depression and anger, the spiral begins a volatile downward slope into the deep abyss of inner turmoil and frustration. Avoid the rut of holding grudges.

Principle number six: be prepared. That is what your certificate of graduation means right now. As we see it, one steers a much straighter course when we gaze far enough ahead; when one looks at the far reaching distance rather than when we focus on the “tiny spec” just before our eyes.

There is a seventh principle, it is … Be caring and considerate of others. Be kind to one another. Listen twice as much as you speak. Be gentle and caring. It has been said: people really don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

And the eighth principle: Be determined even in adversity. Life has its “good days” and it hard knocks. But the most successful and happy people we know, have experienced wins and losses, triumphs and defeats; but successful people face adversity with a toughness of spirit and a resilience of attitude. Remember it is your attitude which determines your altitude. Keep your mind on lofty thoughts, hopes, and possibilities.

Put your heart into your attitude. That is principle number nine. Be a “good finder.” Look for the “good” in others. They say that an ounce of gold is covered by tons of dirt. Look for the shinning gold of the precious personality in others. And when you look for the gold in those around you, you will discover in the depths of your own heart– the ability to like, to appreciate, and to enjoy others. And what a gift that is!

And the last principle, as you chart the course of your future: you have a precious, built-in personal “radar system”. This radar system which is your personal compass will serve you well. Perhaps you will not remember much of what we have written here. But we urge you to take three words with you from this message. We suggest that you store these words in your memory bank for immediate retrieval when the need arises. Our message can be summed up in these three words: FOLLOW YOUR HEART. And so, “let each become all for which he or she is capable.” And that is how we see it FROM OUR PERSPECTIVE.

Congratulations graduates of 2021!

Columnist Robert L. Heichberger and his wife Elaine B. Heichberger are Gowanda residents.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)


Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today