Commencement, 2020-Style

Graduation-ish News: I’ve been attending college for three years, after a forty-year hiatus. I was a college dropout, but now I’m on the verge of receiving my diploma in the mail. In May, due to COVID, our college held a virtual commencement.

Attending my May 2020 virtual commencement ceremony was gratifying and a bit strange! While I envisioned walking across a stage to claim my diploma in a stadium full of cheering fans, instead I virtually heard my favorite professors say nice things about me while my parents and sisters watched via ZOOM and my hubby sat by my side. The IUPUI virtual ceremony included videos that we students uploaded. I wanted mine to be lighthearted, so my husband, Rad, and I wore Groucho glasses with big noses. We made the video in a little park near our house while standing on a bridge over a tiny stream. We walked there hand in hand, laughing and spitting out fake Groucho mustache hairs. I wore Honors cords and a medal – which was an act of kindness in itself, made possible by the dean of the Honor’s College. As Rad and I walked, neighbors yelled their congratulations from cars and front porches.

A couple of weeks later, I had a very small drive-by graduation party in our front yard. I told Rad I wanted balloons. The day of the party, I woke up to two huge balloon bouquets staked in the front yard, one of a graduation cap and one pink unicorn balloon (which is still alive and well in my office – I’m looking at her as I type!). For the party, I bought some decorations at the dollar store and some champagne on ice and we were a go! Friends and my favorite professors stopped by for a brief, socially distanced hello. Was it the graduation and celebration I envisioned? Was it the image that kept me going at 2 am while writing papers on deadline for three years? Did it warm my bones as I walked to school in the snow for three winters, uphill both ways (that one is for my parents)? Nope. But what I received was a much richer, more intimate, and more meaningful experience than anything in my imagination.

It is this life lesson that now keeps me going: sometimes the dream you chase isn’t the one you get, but something different comes along to show you the deepest richness of positive possibility.

What positive possibility has come to you during the coronavirus challenge we are all facing?

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