A graduation day message

“Let us be lovers. We’ll marry our fortunes together. I’ve got some real estate here in my bag. And we walked on to look for America.”

The words by Simon and Garfunkel in “Kathy’s Song” are reminiscent of those daring yet doubting days after graduation. My wife, Kathy, and I married our fortunes in 1968 and with a little bit of real estate in our bags, mostly consisting of Kathy’s savings, we set out to look for America heading towards New Jersey for job interviews.

“I looked at the scenery. She read her magazine. And the moon rose over an open field.”

From Montevideo, Uruguay to Mankato, from Iran to Iowa and from Buenos Aires to Bemidji, we watched many moons rise over open fields. Because we took the opportunity to look for America, we think we know ourselves better and we think we know America better.

“Kathy, I’m lost, I said, though I knew she was sleeping. I’m empty and achy and I don’t know why. Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike, they’ve all gone to look for America.”

Graduates will often find themselves achy and lost. They will find themselves in a rut and counting cars may be the best they can do. This is all part of looking. Times can and will be tough but through all of those tough times you come closer to finding who you are and what you represent. It all begins when you look for America, when you look for yourself. What you find will change your life.

“All gone to look for America, all gone to look for America.” I hope all graduates do.

Parent/teacher burnout

Many, many years ago I began doing teacher workshops on the theme, “Teacher Burnout.” The time now seems ripe again with parents and classroom educators devising plans that were not included in parenting 101 or teacher education 101.

The first suggestion I have for all of you is don’t forget to take time to sit. My grandmother who died at the age of 100 was an expert at it. I think that is why she lived so long. She was very good at sitting with her neighbors or even alone, watching people passing by or reading her Bible. All of us need to do more sitting. Become an expert. Teach your kids the art of sitting.

The second suggestion is to start over, rethink what you are doing, try something different. Remember that it's not what you do that counts; it's what you do after you think you have done it all that counts.

Jesus Christ was a carpenter who became a world leader. Jimmy Carter was a world leader who became a carpenter. We are better off because of it. Start over, start today. What’s stopping you?

The third suggestion is make someone laugh. The phone rings in the middle of the night when Ole and Lena are in bed and Ole answers. "Vell how da heck should I know, dat's two tousand miles from here," he says and hangs up. "Who vas dat?" asks Lena. " I donno, some fool wanting to know if da coast vas clear”

My fourth suggestion is remember muskrat law No. 1. Trudi lived in the northeast part of town. Some of the old folks still remember the morning that Trudi went into her bathroom, lifted the toilet seat cover and sat down only to hear something stirring in the toilet. She got up, looked down and gave a shriek that could be heard for a three-block radius. There, staring at Trudi were two tiny beady brown eyes belonging to an angry muskrat. Muskrat law No. 1 is, be sure you look in the toilet before you sit down. You see, things could be worse.

A Memorial Day reminder

How well do you know the Declaration of Independence? Can you fill in the blanks?

The second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence begins as follows: “We hold these ______ to be _________, that all _____ are created _______, that they are endowed by their _________ with certain unalienable _______, that among these are _____, _______ and the pursuit of ___________.

(Answers: Truths, self-evident, men, equal, Creator, rights, life, liberty, happiness.)

Memorial Day is a good day to read the U.S. mission statement. Be safe, be well. You deserve it.

Riddle: What did Tennessee? (Answer: The same that Arkansas.) Graduates, see as much of this world as you can. It’s a beautiful place filled with beautiful people.)

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Three-thousand homeschooling tip booklets will be distributed to give to parents. Thanks to the Bemidji Lions for helping to make this possible. One of the tips, of course, is “Be sure and remind your kids to graduate.”

John R. Eggers of Bemidji is a former university professor and area principal. He also is a writer and public speaker.