View from the soapbox: Advice for the graduating class of 2021

Our greeting to the Good Generation

Disclaimer: very few children dream of writing advice columns. 

So, if an adult ends up writing an advice column, it’s fair to assume their life didn’t go exactly as planned. Be skeptical of such writing, including what follows.

Good times: About a century ago, we had the Greatest Generation. You, the graduating class of 2021, are the Good Generation. 

In Old English, “good” was something both valuable and complete. 

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You have an education. That’s valuable. You navigated a crisis, surviving and quite possibly saving lives in the process. This makes your education valuable and complete.

All you need then, is a bit of wisdom. Ahem.


Some people wash the dishes immediately after dinner. Others let them soak. The fact that these people frequently intermarry and spend their lives in wedded bliss is a miracle that should be appreciated.

If you decide to get married, spend less time thinking about your ideal wedding and more time thinking about your ideal marriage. (My partner contributed this one. That’s why it’s better than the rest of these.)


Admire people who live like there’s no tomorrow but don’t invite them to breakfast. They tend to be terrible company before noon.

The friend who talks to you about everyone else almost certainly talks to everyone else about you. 

Yes, your best friend is annoying. On the other hand, look what they have to put up with.


Don’t play video games. You won’t get anything out of it except maybe a seven-figure salary not including endorsements, tops.

The internet eats everything. Careful what you feed it.


Travel and talk and dance and study and eat for the experience. Work for money.

Your boss thinks he earned that position. There’s nothing to be done about that.


Don’t argue politics with children. It’s far too embarrassing to lose.

Don’t argue politics with idiots. It’s far too embarrassing to win.

Kindness exists. It emerges fully formed from unlikely sources with astonishing regularity. Justice remains a work in progress.


Someday you’ll stroll through the produce section and idly wonder when the grocery store started playing such great music. You will then be officially old. See you when you get there.

The universe and everything

Pride goes before the fall. Humility also goes before the fall. Frankly, the fall is tough to avoid. Try to enjoy the ride, anyway.

Don’t dwell too much on the state of humanity. Yes, there’s cruelty and stupidity and high fructose corn syrup and social media influencers. On the other hand, Louis Armstrong once sang “St. James Infirmary.”  Here. Listen to it as needed.

We’re a mixed bag and, sometimes, good people are capable of bending the moral arc of the universe toward something better.

Happy graduation. Enjoy it.

And be good.


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