Lance Scranton: Now it begins!
The parties are over and the celebrations have subsided and as you look back at your four years of high school, you will be told by some very intelligent people that it’s time to put the plan for your life into action. I believe confidently that there is a plan for your life, but the only way you will ever discover it will be to understand how meaningful your life is right now, has been in the past, and will be in the future.
Many people think that finding meaning in life is discovered somewhere within ourselves, but I would submit to you that they are wrong. The only way you will discover meaning in your life is out in the world. Our postmodern sensibilities tell us to build meaning backwards from where it has been constructed throughout history. Only recently have we determined that how happy we feel is more important than what we actually do with our lives.
I truly believe that people are not in pursuit of happiness but ultimately search for a reason to be happy in the first place. The meaning of life always changes, we don’t live a static existence and meaning is correlated to three attitudes. The more you forget about yourself, give of yourself, and serve the ones you love – the more meaning you will have in your life! It’s not easy, and it’s counter to our culture of Facebook narcissism and social media manipulation.
If your life is boring or seems inadequate, it’s your fault! With boredom comes the roots of depression and a blossoming of other cliché conditions that would be well served with a good dose of going out and doing something for others, giving your time, serving those who need help.
You will be amazed at how much better you feel when you quit focusing so much attention on yourself.
All around you there are people telling you that you need stuff to be worthy because they have something to sell and they will sell whatever you are buying! However, if you become a more savvy consumer of what the world has to offer, it will become a place that can help you grow and provide you with the things you actually need for genuine fulfillment.
Everyone wants, everyone desires, but beware when happiness and meaning are wrapped up in your next purchase! If you want a reason to be happy, a reason to have meaning, go and get dirty in the muck and mire of humanity, serve others and give of yourself — because this world needs you!
Beauty, truth, and goodness are in our culture but we must choose to find them while experiencing each other in our uniqueness — by loving each other — only then will we be truly who we are, know what potential we have in us, and what we can truly become.
And finally, you have a choice about your attitude toward the unexpected circumstances of life. This is easily the most difficult aspect of finding meaning and one that wreaks the most havoc on our happiness. The fact that suffering is unavoidable seems unfair in a world that is consumed with being happy.
I see many people who use drugs to escape life and find artificial happiness, but I can tell you from experience that there are other addictions that can make drugs look puny by comparison. I interact daily with people who are enslaved by things like jealousy, hatred, envy, and anger who are far more unhappy and destructive than any drug or drug addict! It’s way too easy in our culture to play the victim card or thrive on negative emotions.
It’s so great to listen to young people who are full of energy and have dreams and aspirations and goals and desires and all that great stuff that makes me so glad we live in this country. Just remember that at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter what you have, or how much you have because it won’t mean anything if you don’t have anything meaningful to give all your stuff meaning!
You’re each unique, special, and your past is important, your present is powerful, your future is what you will make it. You are each ultimately responsible for how you live, what you choose to believe, and what you will chase after. I pray that what you find will be worth it.
Congratulations! Now it begins!