Many of us know someone who is graduating this time of year. Perhaps we may even be attending a graduation ceremony, reading a famous person’s commencement address, or reflecting back to our own graduations.
The fact that graduations are called commencements has always caught my attention, as referring to them the way makes it clear that every ending is also a beginning. To quote the 1998 classic song, “Closing Time,” by Semisonic, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
There is another term related to graduation and commencement ceremonies that truly captures what is happening in those moments, and at the same time has an excellent message for all of us whether we are graduates or not. Graduation ceremonies are also referred to as “exercises,” as in “the 165th Commencement Exercises for the University of _______ will be held…..”
I love the phrase “commencement exercises” because it makes it clear that the graduates are beginning something new, which will take effort and a willingness to change. Like all forms of exercise, starting something new takes discipline, commitment, courage, and intentional effort over a prolonged period of time. The rewards of exercise may not be apparent immediately, or even in the short term, but over time, regular exercise of any kind will always produce growth and change.
In honor of all who will be participating in official commencement exercises this year, I’d like to offer a suggestion for the rest of us. Why not think about creating a commencement exercise for yourself right now? Is there something new that you would like to do to increase wellness in some aspect of your life? Would you like to start a new hobby, a new workout program, a new activity with someone you love? Would you like to learn a foreign language, start volunteering, plant a new garden, or begin a spiritual practice or routine?
Creating commencement exercises on a regular basis is a good thing as it strengthens the muscles we need for negotiating transitions and helps us to thrive. Commencement exercises keep us strong in body, mind, and spirit.
So as we celebrate and honor all who are participating in academic commencement exercises, I hope each of us will be inspired to create goals and a few commencement exercises of our own so that we too can graduate into a new, even better way of being in the world.
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