Looking back on our school years, we, the graduates of 2008 from BHS, have done many amazing things. We sat 13 years in uncomfortable desks, filled in thousands of circles with No. 2 lead, have been conditioned to the sound of bells, listened to hours of lectures, did an infinite amount of projects and activities and somehow managed to persevere through it all.
But now that it is all said and done, we can look back on our memories and smile. There were good times with good friends. Some of the questions on the tests we actually knew. The bells finally faded into the background, the lectures provided opportunities to learn something. Our class has led our teams through some of the most successful sport seasons in school history. Our music programs are recognized throughout the country. Other programs like drama, speech, and debate have all received outstanding awards as well. Whatever we have put time and dedication into, we have excelled at. Together, with support from our families, school staff and the community, we have made these years as fun and as memorable as possible. The first portion of our life was spent building up to this moment, our graduation. This has laid the foundation that we will build off for the rest of our lives. So now, where do we go from here with so many voices ringing in our ears?
In our childhood, many of us have watched Disney movies for entertainment. They were the classic stories of fairy tale moments and true love. Heroes were honored and villains were vanquished. What you may not have realized is the profound examples that some of these characters have given to us as different lifestyles we can lead and different purposes that can guide our path.
For example, some say live life with no worries and no regrets. Hakuna Matata! What a wonderful phrase. The life of easiness and living off of what is around you. No problems and no looking back. People just play and have fun all day long. They despise work and if problems come their way, they simply run to another safe haven. However, choosing this path is not successful in the long run as your past eventually catches up with you. As Rafiki said, "You can either run from it or learn from it. So what are you going to do?
Others say that a life is meant to be lived to help steal from the rich and give to the poor. Live a life to try and equalize the opportunities that all individuals can have. Corruption and greed can lead some people to take advantage of other human beings and trying to stop this from happening is a worthy cause in life. This lifestyle involves taking justice into your own hands to ensure that people are all given a fair chance. This heroic lifestyle does not mean wearing tights and a green hat, but simply striving to make a difference.
In the dichotomy of life, there are beautiful things and beastly things. Appearance may be deceptive and some people live to try and see the beauty that lies within. They strive to understand the deeper meanings and delve into the depths rather than skim along the surface. You may not have been put under a spell and turned into an inanimate object confined to live in a castle, but you might search for the truth and goodness inside all human beings. All of us have the opportunity to find this out before the last rose petal of our life flutters to the ground.
A few live for family honor, and although we have all probably shamed our parents, relatives, uncles, aunts, and second cousins once removed at one time or another, we can still make a change to try and bring them honor. Living a life that can make others proud of us is very commendable. Getting a good job, being successful, and being a productive member of society are things that all of us can achieve if we put our mind to it. You don't have to fight in a war, sacrifice yourself for your father, and save all of China, but simply striving for excellence and doing everything to your greatest potential will leave those that love you with nothing to be ashamed about.
Not all of us will lead a life of fantasy and fairy tale, but the underlying meanings of the stories of our childhood hold many keys to a successful and fulfilling life. In the stories, the characters are all searching for something or striving after a goal. They don't put in half-hearted attempts or sit on a couch and let life pass them by. They are active and determined to make their dreams come true. The meaning of life is simply to find your own, unique purpose and to live whole-heartedly for that purpose. There is no right answer as to what we should live for. Instead, all of us need to find the answer out for ourselves. High school has been the first step on the path to finding our own individual purposes in life. Now we need to go forth into the world and search for our purpose and start to leave the imprint of our lives behind.
Finally, I want to leave you with a few things to think about as you go through your journey of life. Time is not infinite, so make the most of what you have. Money is not infinite, so make the most of what you've got. The resources of this world are not infinite, so save some for your neighbor. But love, love is infinite and has no bounds, so share it freely with everyone you meet, holding nothing back.
CHRISTOPHER DENS is valedictorian for the Brainerd High School class of 2008 and was chosen as a graduation speaker.
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