It is time once again for Pomp and Circumstance.
That means graduates are going to hear plenty of boilerplate speeches delivered by those who think they have discovered a new level of enlightenment. They will get even more unsolicited advice from people who either think they are Horace Greeley or the smug Los Angeles businessman who told Dustin Hoffman in “The Graduate,” “I just want to say one word to you – just one word – ‘plastics.”
But your life isn’t about saving the world or making a fortune. It’s about finding you. Once you do that everything else falls into place: Contributing to society, success, and happiness.
So if you can stomach some advice from an old fogey, consider the words the Chairman of the Board himself – Frank Sinatra – sang when he crooned, “That’s Life.”
That’s life (that’s life) that’s what all the people say
You’re ridin’ high in April, shot down in May
But I know I’m gonna change that tune
When I’m back on top, back on top in June
Life isn’t one big success after another. Nor is it one continuous string of failures. It has valleys and it has peaks. You can’t have flowers without rain. You can’t have love without pain. You can’t have success without failure. Keep in mind as long as you breath there is a tomorrow. There is always a morning after.
I said that’s life (that’s life) and as funny as it may sound
Some people get their kicks stompin’ on a dream
But I don’t let it, let it get me down
‘cause this fine old world, it keeps spinnin’ around
There are people out there who are going to taunt you, ridicule you, and dismiss your dreams. Don’t let their bitterness and viciousness get you down. And even when they are laughing or sneering in your face, life will go on.
I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king
I’ve been up and down and over and out and I know one thing
Each time I find myself flat on my face
I pick myself up and get back in the race.
Sometimes we get used. Sometimes we get down on our luck. Sometimes we do things we’re not proud of. Sometimes we follow. Sometimes we lead. You are going to fail. But don’t wallow in it. Get back up and go at it again.
That’s life (that’s life) I tell you I can’t deny it
I thought of quitting but my heart just ain’t gonna buy it
And if I didn’t think it was worth one single try
I’d jump right on a big bird and then I’d fly
We all think about quitting now and then. When you do, look inside yourself before you do anything. What does your heart tell you? Aren’t your dreams worth another try? You can run away from them but is that what you really want to do?
That’s life (that’s life), that’s life and I can’t deny it
Many times I thought of cuttin’ out but my heart ain’t going to buy it
But if there’s nothing shakin’ come this here July
I’m going to roll myself up in a big ball and die
Quitting life is something that most people think in their darkest moments. But before you act on such thoughts give it time. And while the lyrics penned by Dean Kay and Kelly Gordon suggest if nothing comes along you’ll just give up and coast until the end, that’s not life.
So how can a song that comes across as uplifting can be such a downer? It’s because it reflects life. The elixir of youthful energy, invincibility, and seemingly endless possibilities is always hammered by the fact the world is full of polar opposite pairings – good and bad, poor and rich, young and old, doubt and confidence, hate and love, heath and illness, weak and strong – and varying degrees in between.
The truth is you can’t truly appreciate the good without the bad. It’s part of the implied contract. There is no utopia unless it is the state you reach when you embrace the good in life after having experienced the bad.
There is a downside to every upside and an upside to every downside. And sometimes the distance between the two isn’t very far to travel.
Listen to the wedding march, and then the funeral dirge. There’s not much difference at the start of each save the tempo and the deepness of the notes.
It’s how you play it that makes all the difference in the world. That’s life.