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A Refreshing Knapp – I’ve graduated! Now what?

By Ray Knapp

As a graduating senior this year and exiting into the “real world” out there, you are probably filled with more questions and anxiety than you thought you would feel. What am I going to do now? What do I want to do? Will I just let fate decide for me, or will I make some concrete plans and see them through? What is the meaning of life anyway, and what am I to do with mine? Sometimes those questions are as relevant to university graduates as to those just graduating high school.

Having an age and experience advantage on you, I can say with some authority that it is my conclusion that every person is born to live out the dream they have inside. You may fall or fail many times. Most of us are afraid of the thief who comes in the night to steal all your things. But the thief is actually a figment of your imagination that is after your dreams. He is called doubt. He has killed more dreams than failure ever did. He wears many disguises and will leave you blinded; leave you “kind of” a success, not the real success of fulfilling the dream you were destined to live. To get past this mentality you have to want it with all your heart. You may fall or fail many times, but who is counting? Don’t let go of that dream – determination is the difference between success and failure. Henry Ford was bankrupt at age 42. Many people would have thrown up their hands in despair and settled for a life doing whatever menial thing they could to get by. Henry held onto his dream and, I think we all agree, turned that temporary failure into a huge financial success.

Some of the most meaningful moments come when we too rise above or go beyond the limits of our self-image and put ourselves at the service of others and our creator. Maybe you should add: that in order for life to feel meaningful, it needs to be in sync with your sincere interests. That’s not saying your interests in life are different from everyone else; many will find similar interests in nursing, teaching, or reaching for the stars … being an astronaut. It’s a case of knowing enough about yourself to find a particular path to service. When you find that dream inside you, then you can move towards defining the meaning of life. The meaning of life is to pursue that sense of self through interaction and understanding others, and keeping on the path towards service to God, and country – and working towards your ambitions.

It seems many pursue a life of no particular interests. For your life to be fulfilling and meaningful, certain things need to be done.

Foremost, you need to have relationships with others. Not preaching to you, but the Golden Rule is a good place to start, followed by the 10 Commandments. Relationships with others can, and perhaps should, include romantic ones, followed by family, friends and co-workers. Delving into just the dream – say… writing the next Great American Novel; being the world’s best artist and so forth is not the only thing you need to understand yourself, the world, or the meaning of life. Life means nothing without having a relationship with others.

A good friend, Jack Metcalf, a warm, likeable guy, wanted to be a railroad engineer, and to be the best engineer possible of a diesel train. Being an engineer isn’t just keeping the train on the tracks at a certain speed. Steve Brody learned about speed just before his demise in “The Wreck of the old 97.” Jack had to learn more than that; all the controls; what cars to hook to, and those to leave on a siding – everything about it. He worked hard, realized that dream inside him, and lived a fulfilled and happy life.

Do what interests you, and in everything you do in life … give it everything you have, and like Jack, you can live a fulfilled and happy life.