Saturday, May 19, 2012

Graduation thoughts

I received my degree in January.  As exciting as it was, I'm thrilled I decided to do the actual commencement ceremony.  Originally, the only reason I did this was to make my mom happy.  Now I'm glad she made me because it felt so darn good walking across that stage in the cap and gown!  There really is something to walking across that stage and shaking hands with the head of your college as you take your degree.  Joseph Campbell wrote extensively on the importance of rituals and how it transforms a person.  We need rituals in our lives push us to the next stage of life.  I can see, no, feel, the importance in the commencement ceremony/ritual.  Having already had my degree for five months, I thought it would just be some typical walk across the stage, but I really was beaming that I received some acknowledgement from a crowd.  I didn't care if only six people in the crowd knew who I was, but gosh darn-it every person in that center knew MARLANA WEBER graduated with her Bachelor's Degree!  You may not know my story or anything about me, but I did it, and you know it!  Afterwards, I swear I was standing taller and felt a little smarter.  I feel initiated into some deluxe group of the college educated.

It really is inspiring to see those higher-ups give their fancy speeches.  Maybe now that we are educated people, we can sit and appreciate what these people are saying to us.  Maybe it's because we just spent the last 2-4 years of our lives working towards this degree, and we sit there and think "You darn well have something good to say to me!"  Perhaps they realize this is a huge milestone in our lives, and as anyone crossing that threshold in our life's journey realizes it may be terrifying and therefore are trying to give us some words to encourage us on our next steps.  I felt the pride when our President explained how great of a school National University really is: second best non profit school in California, twelfth in the nation.  I found comfort hearing Ben Stein, our guest speaker, tell us how important it is to never stop learning, and that it is our own hard work and determination, all of which we just displayed, that will get us through the hard times our society faces now.  Now that we have our degrees, nobody can take away what we learned -- EVER!  Better yet, we have this amazing knowledge and can share that with the world.  Whether it is in our own personal world, or if we become world leaders one day, we have this amazing gift of knowledge to share.  It makes me realize, I don't want to stop learning, and just because I have my degree doesn't mean I need to stop learning either. The world is filled with opportunities for us to grow and learn, and to share that with others.   We don't have to go back to college to learn, necessarily, there are plenty of ways we can learn each day.  This may sound cliche, but we really are the future!

The world needs us. When I look around and see so many people who have just thrown their hands up, while, at times, I can't blame them, I also realize that's not what our society needs right now.  What we need is a hero, and we are all heroes.  Each and every once of us faces a challenge every day; we face big challenges many times in our lives.  Every time we conquer that challenge, we learn something; we cross the threshold and have new knowledge, a boon, to share the with the world (or at least those around us).  That makes us a hero in our own right!  You are probably looking at me like I'm crazy now, thinking, "Marlana, I am not some super hero who saved the world."  Yet, you are!  Any accomplishment you celebrate is something big to you, and conquering that changes you.  In Campbell's theory, that makes you a hero.  You cross a threshold, you conquer what needed to be conquered, you return a hero, and now, most importantly, it is time for you to share that with those around you.

Who knew how much that first class in my English program would transform me? As hesitant as I was, I stepped back into the world of school.  I was excited and nervous all in the same breath.  This Myth, Metaphor, and Symbol class really taught me not just about myths, but about life.  I am sure God has his ways of knowing how to teach us, and by learning about The Hero's Adventure in my first class, it opened my eyes to understanding the importance of our struggles, how we must fight those things that hold us back, and when we do, we emerge a transformed person.  Step by step, those triumphs make us who we are.  When facing challenges during my classes, I could think back to Joseph Campbell's teachings and know this is just one challenge in my adventure. If I can just get to my inner strength, my physical strength, my mental strength, and pull all my resources, it will pay off.

I'm proud to say, it did.  I'm here.  I'm proof.  I made it through!

Basically, we have crossed that threshold, we need to take pride in our accomplishments, and from Campbell's perspective, it is time to step up and be the heroes we have become.

"The modern hero, the modern individual who dares to heed the call and seek the mansion of that presence with whom it is our whole destiny to be atoned, cannot, indeed must not, wait for his community to cast off its slough of pride, fear, rationalized avarice, and sanctified misunderstanding. 'Live,' Nietzsche says, 'as though the day were here.'" 
- Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces



Thanks to all my "supernatural aid" ... I couldn't have done it without you: Patrick, Mom, Dad, Elijah, AJ, Christy, and of course all my professors and teachers.

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