For the first 50 years of my life, my perfectionist self mistakenly believed it was all about knowing more, getting it right, planning, attempting to prevent bad things from happening, and keeping all of my chicks in a row. It took me this long to discover that the JOURNEY is all that matters. This quote from Gilda Radner sums it all up:

"I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Middlebury Commencement

George Bernard Shaw once said, "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.  Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."  

My guess is that if he were still alive today Shaw would describe Middlebury students as "unreasonable people".

And so began the address by student commencement speaker Bronwyn Oatley.

Minutes before, the Middlebury Class of 2013 files into their seats in the field house surrounded by their adoring fans armed with iPhones, iPads, cameras and camcorders.

As we watched for Adam, we saw many of his friends.  Barbara had a huge smile for her parents!

Mrig spotted us and gave us a grin.

Finally, we saw Adam's face in a small gap between two other students. 

The field house walls were decorated by 45 flags, representing the nationalities of the graduating class.

Author Jonathan Safran Foer gave the commencement address.  His first novel , "Everything is Illuminated" was the summer reading assignment for for class of 2013 before they arrived on campus back in 2009.  Both humorous and thought provoking, he warned students of the growing intrusion of communications technology on the human experience. He noted how the conveniences of modern ways of communicating make it easy to retreat from the difficult aspects of human relationships.

Diplomas were awarded...

and each graduate also received a cane.

In 1819, a co-founder of Middlebury College died and left the college $13,000 and his 4 ft. long wooden cane.  By doing so, he saved the college from financial ruin.
Replicas of that cane are given to each graduate.

With the throwing of the caps, the ceremony ended.

Here's the handsome graduate!

We walked over to the student center where Kerry and Annie had been watching the ceremony on a video screen.

Annie gave her brother a big hug. 

Then Adam posed for a picture with his other sister, oblivious to the other two faces right behind them!

His friends ,Andrew and Jordan, drove up from Connecticut to surprise him!

Then we headed to one of the dining halls for a celebratory luncheon.

Forced inside due to the weather, seating everyone was impossible.  We were so hungry, we chose not to wait for a table!

As we ate, many of Adam's friends came by for pictures!

 We took family pictures too.

Armed with my camera, Adam took me along on one final trip around campus for more pictures with more special people.

This is Jeff.  He came to our house for Thanksgiving last year and we found him to be very sweet and funny.  When we were at the Thai restaurant on Friday, he said something that I found to be very profound.  He said with sincerity, "Adam and I are a lot alike.  What most people find weird, we find to be normal."
I thought about the ways to take this statement.
Either he's saying that he and Adam are weird 
or he's saying that he and Adam don't judge other people. 
I think it's the latter.
They are both truly nice people!

 When a group hug was called for, Jeff protested, stating that it was not good-bye.

But in the end he relented and joined in!

One more "favorite" teacher to visit.  This teacher, after noting Adam's misery with his allergies this spring, actually bought him a neti pot to help him out!

Pictures done, we headed back to Adam's house to pack up.

It was a melancholy ending to a memorable weekend, or I should say,
a memorable four years.

In her commencement address, student Bronwyn Oatley said,
"Though often referred to negatively as "the bubble", I believe it was in this space that I was really able to grow."
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."

"Class of 2013, love wildly, live boldly, and continue to listen to the voices that lead you toward growth.  Class of 2013, follow in the footsteps of the 213 classes of Middlebury students who have walked across this stage.  Class of 2013, continue to be unreasonable people."

A Very Special Weekend

When I first learned that Middlebury College commencement was a 3 day event, I didn't understand.  Every other graduation I've ever attended lasted a few hours at most.  Nevertheless, a year ago I booked rooms for us for a 3 night stay.

Last Friday, we packed and headed up to Vermont for Adam's graduation weekend.  By the time we got to Middlebury, the temperature had dropped over 20 degrees and it was raining.  We stayed at the Lilac Inn in Brandon, VT.  It was beautiful and welcoming, even on such a cold, dreary day.

As we walked up the staircase to our rooms, I read the words on the window.

Somehow, the words made a difference.  They made the Inn feel more like a home.

At the top of the stairs was an old chest with antique maple syrup cans.  As I examined them more closely they brought me back in time - I could remember some of them from my childhood.

After a short rest, it was time to head to Middlebury for our first event - 

We got a chance to meet with Adam's Italian professors, classmates, and friends he made when he was in Italy last year.  

Adam and Kayla talk with one of their Italian professors.

Grandma Alice was with us for the weekend too.

Jess and Adam became friends when they were studying in Rome the same semester.

Adam with his friend, Justin.

These last two ladies are two of Adam's favorite Italian professors...

This was his freshman year advisor.

Next up - dinner.

A few more of Adam's friends met us at a Thai restaurant for dinner. 

 The restaurant floated blue and white balloons on the ceiling, the Middlebury colors.

David always impresses us with the massive amount of food he can eat at one sitting!

It was such a nice dinner with four exceptional young men.

On Saturday, the Lilac Inn was bustling with activity.  There was a wedding reception at the Inn, and we watched the bride getting into a beautiful horse-drawn carriage to take her to the church.

Then we headed back to Middlebury in the rain (have I mentioned it hasn't stopped raining since we got here yesterday??)

 There was a reception for the history department where Adam introduced us to more of his "favorite" teachers.

These are his "favorite" parents!

There were more festivities to come in the evening as Adam and his housemates hosted a barbecue for their families.  We had fun getting meeting everyone and were impressed that the guys were able to put a meal together for so many people!

After two days spent meeting Adam's teachers, friends and their families, I understood why we didn't just go for the actual ceremony.  Middlebury College was inviting us into what has been Adam's world for the past four years.  It is a close-knit community with many caring teachers who were also mentors and friends.  They could have had these receptions without us, but I'm happy that chose to include us.

Graduation was scheduled for 10AM on Sunday - outside - rain or shine.
But the Vermont weather was a little too cold, a little too wet and a little too windy 
to be held outside after all.
We were grateful!

(to be continued)