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The Only Constant Is Change: Thoughts on Graduation

Published 5.28.19, Jaedin Guldenstern

Trees provide us with plentiful fruits, cooling shade, others jog back memories of being the best to climb, and the trees in our backyards have even watched us grow up. However, even though trees have always been a constant in our lives, their leaves are ever changing and working. They give us life. I mean this in a quite literal sense- leaves provide us with the oxygen we need to breathe and in return they take in the carbon dioxide our lungs push out, creating a kind of codependency- you could even call it teamwork. When we realize how interconnected our lives are to the leaves on a tree, we can sort of understand that the big changes happening before our eyes are simply an example of Mother Nature’s finest work. Much like a tree grows, we are pushed forward, no matter how fast it may feel. We need to grow in order to become our best selves. Leaves do not stay put for their entire lives, and if they did that would be pretty strange. Instead, leaves go through cycles, similar to those we have experienced for 17 or 18 years.

At some point in time, a tree thrives, sparking with the rich green leaves of summertime, which beautifully decay into the orange and red residue of the fall. In the winter the trees are full of upsetting bare branches, but then the cold somehow nurtures the beautiful bloom of spring.

In New England, we have the seasons engraved into our minds. We understand that with every new season comes a dramatic change in weather, mindset, traditions, hobbies, and the general look and feel of the outdoors. Surrounded by trees, we have this natural intuition that once the leaves change in someway, we are entering a new phase of the year. It can be refreshing, annoying, beautiful, sort of strange, and even bittersweet- but we always recognize that the leaves are changing. They act as a sign for us to move on, signaling that something new is about to come. It is time for them to morph in some way in order to embrace their new journeys, no matter whether they decide to stay put or fly away.

In the world of leaves, a state of permanency does not exist. Although the leaves themselves will always have their roots, trunk, and branches to ground them, they always change size, color, direction, and appearance because there is no time to give up on their cycles. In order to get ready to bloom, however, leaves are somewhat non-existent in winter. It’s too cold, too dreary, and there is not enough sunshine to provide them with ingredients to grow. Winter symbolizes the hardships wherever you are in your journey. The tough days make you stronger. In your walk of life, regardless of how much you have, what you have accomplished, and who you are, you will get to a point where you hit a bump in the road. These times will pass, through this phase of brokenness, and it is up to us to trust that everything happens for a reason, especially when life just simply seems too hard. Nobody ever said being a leaf or being a human was easy, but it is also pretty magnificent.

Try to imagine, to compare, this process of graduating high school as being as beautiful as the plants in Maudslay, at Atkinson, on Plum Island, and even in your garden. Right now they are starting to bloom- the white Magnolia leaves are falling to the ground, the purple lilacs give off the most amazing smells, and the bees keep buzzing around the herb gardens our moms love to plant. The leaves on the old oak trees are starting to sprout, and the birds are singing every morning because they are so happy it’s finally warm. We are not only experiencing the rain and sunshine duo of May, but we are also beginning something brand new during our lifelong adventure. Right now the outdoors is in perfect alignment with our journeys. Our souls are in the process of blooming, adapting, and changing into a new world of light.

Think of our class as a tree. Our tree has a little under 200 leaves, representing each one of us. However, this tree of 2019 would not be possible without the leaves fluttering down to the ground, decomposing, and giving off seeds that were nourished to become strong, successful, and wise. This growth would not be possible without the parent tree, which, at one time let go of its own seeds to start their own life. We have many types of parent trees sitting here with us tonight, and it is our responsibility to take a moment out of our week to thank the universe for somehow aligning our paths with these special humans who have helped us grow up. We must thank our parents and guardians, our teachers, our coaches, our siblings, and especially Mrs. Glynn for treating us as their own. We are their seedlings, and we must now take every spec of the nutrients they gave us to branch out and explore, eventually allowing us to plant our new seeds wherever we are in the world.

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