We had our last graduation in True Hall on the McCook Community College campus last Friday and only a little more than half of the graduates showed up to take part in the ceremony, even though they were participating in a watershed moment in their lives. Their names and pictures will be displayed and talked about over the next 50 years by alumni of MCC, but obviously to the half that didn't show up, that didn't matter.
And, I expect next year, when we have the first graduating class from our new event center, the number of sophomores donning the cap and gown won't be much better. Significant events in our lives used to have meaning but not so much anymore.
Academically, we call these events "rites of passage" because it takes you from one part of your life to another, like marriage. But marriage has sort of fallen out of favor too with many more young people living together outside the marriage vows than ever before. I guess that's because a vow implies a commitment and a lot of young people today shy away from that word.
We live in a throwaway world where products are manufactured based on the concept of planned obsolescence. In other words, the people making the products know how long they're going to last and they're designed to not last very long.
This is the opposite of the workmanship of generations past where people put their heart and soul intro producing a product that they hoped would last forever.
But no more. Today when products break, run down, or wear out, it's cheaper to just buy a new product than to get the old one fixed so that's what we do. It works that way for relationships too.
I'll be leaving on my semi-annual trip to Arkansas this morning to see my boys. I flew the last time and spent more time in airports waiting on planes than I did on the planes themselves. In fact, I saved exactly one hour of travel time from the time I flew out of McCook 'til the time I landed at my final destination.
I had to go through security checks, couldn't take a lot of the stuff I needed to take, and was bound to the airline's schedule rather than my own. So this time I'm taking the T-bird and making the drive.
The hardest part about the drive is not the 101⁄2 hours spent on the road, it's just making it through Kansas. There's beautiful scenery in eastern Kansas but not in the part that I drive through and the sameness of the landscape makes for a pretty boring six hour drive from Oberlin to Grainfield, Grainfield to Salina, Salina to Wichita and Wichita to the Oklahoma line.
On the other hand, I enjoy the solitude of driving alone. Even though I love music, I hardly ever turn any on during my drive, preferring instead to just think for long periods of time without any interruptions at all. In the hustle and bustle of the modern world, many of us don't ever have time to let our minds run free for extended periods of time and I think that's to our detriment.
Our minds are the engines that propel our existence and, to be fully functioning people who take every advantage of that existence, our minds should be nurtured just as much as we nurture our bodies. I can go off somewhere in my thoughts while I'm driving and drive many miles without being aware of driving at all. And that's what I'll do today.
Linda will have ribs, baked beans and potato salad waiting on me when I get there along with Will and his wife Erica and Michael and his wife Nicki. We'll all sit down at the dining room table and catch up on each other's lives while we're eating and that's always a time we all love. We'll go to Linda's favorite steakhouse tomorrow and to the movies on Sunday. Then it will be back to work for Will and Michael on Monday and after a couple of additional days of relaxing and talking to the mother of my children, I'll head back home on Tuesday or Wednesday.
It will be a good time as it always is. It seems like only yesterday that those boys were in diapers and now they're fine young men with jobs and families and bright hopes and dreams for their future.
It always does my heart good to see and spend time with them because I know we have a love for each other that is unbounded and will always be unbroken.