I would have never believed you if you had told me a few months ago that we would be taking a victory lap together at the Laguna Seca raceway in lieu of signing each other’s yearbooks, that we couldn’t go out to a celebratory graduation dinner, or give friends we’ve known since kindergarten a proper goodbye. But here we are, the Class of 2020 graduating during a pandemic.
The track we’re on now is a defined path, continuing indefinitely lap after lap. People say that, like this track or some formidable mountain to be climbed, life is a journey: You live life to achieve some end goal. The coronavirus prompted me to contemplate that, and I realized that life is not actually a journey from point A to B – life only appears to be a journey if viewed from the past with Class of 2020 hindsight, but we don’t walk through life backward. We walk forward into a world that is constantly evolving.
From the Big Bang to the first explosion of life, to where we are today, spontaneity has been the defining principle; we never know what exactly is going to happen.
Spontaneity is also what makes life worth living. By embracing the beauty in chaos and in spontaneity, we strive to coexist rather than to conquer; we accept that we are but infinitely small beings. We accept that there are things that are beyond our control, but we see opportunity in taking what we do have, in this moment, and making something of it. And so life ceases to be a struggle when you view it as art – not a struggle, but as a story, a song, a dance that is alive and dynamic, and you are the artist.
So live not for the moment, but in the moment. Live not for fleeting pleasures; live grounded in the present, not consumed by what has been or what will be. Coronavirus prompts us to put things in perspective and appreciate the special moments of life. Those moments need not be as monumental as graduations. What I’m going to remember most from high school won’t be the time I spent studying, but rather the daily occurrences that brought joy: talking with my friends, spending an afternoon on the beach, playing “P.G. Will Shine Tonight” after we scored a touchdown against Carmel.
Spontaneity allows us to actively shape our future and our places in it. We will overcome coronavirus. We will overcome climate change. We will turn what is perhaps one of our darkest hours as a species into our finest, because we are not confined to go around and around a preset track.
As our monarch butterfly friends exemplify every year, long journeys and difficult burdens are best borne not alone, but together. No matter how hard the going may get, we – the Class of 2020 – will always be with you – today, tomorrow, and forever more. So even though you may feel alone, we are always with you in your heart. Remember that as you leave the track.