Graduation time came today for someone very close to me. Very heady experience full of emotion and potential. Those graduates posed on a field awaiting a small piece of paper that says, “Job well done.” Several people made nice speeches full of good advice, some called the names, and the flowing of tears began.
The experience left me somewhat exhausted. It was little in the way of physical exhaustion other than the brief walk to a seat and some heat from the sun. The emotional output was pretty intense. These folks were happy and you could see it.
It was the first time I had really been to a graduation experience where I actually paid attention and listened. These people really worked hard. They persevered and eventually most of them will prosper for their efforts. Some will move on to careers of fulfillment and other will continue the education path even further. So many things to do and so many possibilities.
The end of one journey and the start of another. That’s what graduation really is all about. We learn all we can in a short time and then try to put it into practice (in most cases I would think anyway). Can we really experience it without being touched somewhere deep down? I was not able to get away from the event without some watery eyes and a lot of smiling. So many smiles flashing just triggered that smile you get when you see someone else smiling big. Spreads like a rumor but with better results.
Why do we pursue these educational experiences so steadfastly? Time and again, researchers show that salary does not equal happiness and will rarely keep people at a job for long without the job satisfaction to match. Yet we relentlessly pursue this course to further our careers and earning potential. Yet for many, many people it does not end with a dramatic increase in salary.
I like to think the journey itself holds a lot of the satisfaction and wonder for us. We get finished and move on to the next major chapter in our lives. Some of us do increase our earning potential as a result, but I think many just do it for the pure satisfaction of saying, “I did that. I ran the race and crossed the finish line.”
In the end, happiness is probably the main destination for most. Whether the increased earning potential exists or not, the happiness obtained by learning and applying knowledge gives us that creative flow and potential that puts us on the road to any destination we choose.