When I first heard about “commencement speeches” I felt confused as the idea of commencement seemed to be a contrast to a graduating. And as in French “Commencement” means beginning it seemed as if both didn’t belong together. Listening to one or two of them I could see how the celebration of something ending could also become a moment to connect with the future.
If the current moment is the instant between before and after, then we can see the graduation ceremony as an opportunity to acknowledge achievement and an invitation to use the given achievement wisely. It has been interesting to see how speeches vary depending on the speaker. Some preferred to create curiosity for the future, while others talked about own experience as an invitation to put them at use in the future.
Thinking about it, I could see the ritual and assimilated it with quite a few religious ceremonies. These ceremonies mark milestones in a person’s life inviting to use a new approach for the future, linking it to the given learning.
As life seems to have become faster, acknowledging such moments seem to have less presence in our lives. I’ve certainly done this too by denying myself the importance of certificates and accomplishing a learning cycle.
This weekend I attended a training which was the end of a four-year learning cycle for the other participants. I had joined them later. Along the weekend we spent a major part of the weekend discussing the subjects of separation and end. We all had a different approach to this weekend and it showed. Some of us denied the end of the cycle as we would see each other soon again, others didn’t want to see the progress they had made during the cycle while others had not yet thought about ways to use the learning with future projects.
Moving through the training itself, the theme of ending and beginning were regularly addressed.
These moments helped to reflect and bring some of the past back to memory. Acknowledging that this was an end as well as a beginning made it more visible that we had created an experience together. An experience we share and will now keep as a memory while putting it at use in the future. Making the experience more real also made it more remarkable and useful for us.
The work we did during the weekend, also taught me that there can be a confusion between taking an experience as is and evaluating it. By seeing the experience as is, with all its learning, joyful as well as difficult moments it can be used as a building block for the future. By comparing the experience with others it becomes a quest to make it more remarkable than others with the risk to lose the experience itself.
This gives “unfinished business” a new meaning.