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Eric Bergeson

Down on the Farm: Nautical advice

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Sometime this month, every campus and high school across this great nation will host a celebration where somebody who has allegedly met with success in life will dispense advice to graduates on how they, too, might meet with success in life.

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Remember the little people! Be kind! Help others! Live for the moment! Live for the future! Dream big! Don't go with the current! Swim against the tide!

What a waste of time and breath.

If anybody has it all together, it is graduates.

Nobody is less in the mood for advice than graduates. Graduates are at the top of their game.

How can one tell?

Only those at the top of the world would dare embark on a raft full of grandiose nautical metaphors.

You simply can't argue with a ship about to leave port.

I mean, these kids just crafted a class motto about having crossed the bay with the ocean yet to follow, or something about how you cannot discover new oceans if you don't lose sight of the shore.

Why should grizzled, battered, blood-spattered veterans of life in the trenches like myself turn around and give advice to fresh-faced know-it-alls whose ship is about to set sail?

It is spitting in the wind, I tell you.

None but fresh graduates have the ability to look out across the watery depths with purity of purpose and clarity of vision. Instead of us old salts giving them advice, they should teach us the ropes.

If you cross the river to discover an ocean, will you still find a safe harbor? If you lose sight of the shore, will your ship still come in?

These are important questions. And only a graduate can tell you the answer.

Even graduates from institutions in the land-locked Upper Midwest can expertly navigate valedictory metaphors about oceans, bays and tides.

If anything, the rest of us should be humbly crawling to the graduates for advice about how to get through life without drowning.

Okay, Mr. and Miss Graduate, how come my life didn't turn out the way I planned it at graduation from high school? Where did I go wrong? Why didn't it work when I tried to swim against the tide?

Did I take a wrong turn at the dock of the bay? Did I hit a sandbar? Did I improperly navigate the shoals? Did I forget how to swim with the sharks?

By sharks, do you mean ex-wives?

I suppose now you're going to tell me there are more fish in the sea.

What about my goal to study marine biology, a dream that was dashed because I couldn't understand my Chemistry 101 professor's weird foreign accent and dropped the course and changed my major to theater arts?

What about my goal to improve humanity through theater, a dream which was dashed on the rocks when only seventeen people showed up for the premier of my play, "The Tides of Time?"

Will my life ever be smooth sailing, or am I merely playing "Nearer My God to Thee" with the band on the deck of the Titanic?

Will the tide ever turn? Will my ship ever come in? Or will it even leave port?

The longer I live, the more difficult it is to fathom life's depths, the more it seems like I am fishing without a net, adrift without a rudder, up a creek without a paddle.

Oh, how I wish I could keep an even keel. How I long for smooth sailing.

At graduation, I was so ready to set my oars in the water. Unfortunately, life's vicissitudes took the wind out of my sails.

I thought by casting a wide net I would find the one I loved, but I think we passed like two ships in the night.

I feel like I've missed the boat. My life is dead in the water. I yearn to drop anchor.

And that is just the tip of the iceberg!

My only consolation is that we're all in the same boat.

My only hope is that a fresh-faced graduate, somebody who is well-schooled in nautical metaphors, will advise me on how to escape this watery grave.

Instead of writing a column of advice to graduates, I am hoping one of them will throw me a metaphorical life-line.

I'll likely fall for it, hook, line and sinker.

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