Reconnections and Remembrances

Funny thing about this August – I’ve had the chance to catch up in person with quite a number of high school friends – some of whom I haven’t seen in about 16-17 years. And it’s been kind of weird. When you go this long without seeing people, they tend to remain eternally frozen in the moment you last saw them. Think Han Solo in carbonite. Though hopefully without the look of intense pain. And somehow against all practical reality – despite knowing intellectually that a decade and a half of intense change have passed – some deep-seated, emotional part of you half expects that your friends will thaw out from that carbonite of time slightly worse for wear but fundamentally with the same boyish good looks, rakish smile, devil-may-care attitude and smartass remarks.

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You aren’t special. Or maybe you are. But that means you aren’t.

On Facebook today, I was pointed to a great article in a local blog about a high school commencement speech from Friday, which was, in a word, fantastic. But before I get into why, let’s take a step back.

I frequently have conversations with friends where we lament the inability of “the younger generation” (shudder. I can’t believe I just said that.) to fend for themselves. The sense of entitlement seems currently to be out of all proportion with reality. Virtually an entire generation has been raised to be praised, petted and catered upon. We give awards for showing up, and tell our children that they are smart, when they’re merely being average; that all that matters is that you tried your best even though we know that the wider world cares about results than it does about effort.

Even with my own generation, I’ve often commented (before the recession) that my generation seems to think that we’re entitled to be fulfilled by our job. That we deserve to find a job that not only pays us well, but that fulfills us as people and our desire to do good in the world (two things, sadly, that are usually mutually exclusive).

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