On the occasion of graduation, an excerpt from Alan Lightman’s novel, Reunion (in which the narrator attends his 30th college graduation reunion):
“Young people explode with their discovery of the world and the newness of life. They sleep and sleep in their tiny cocoons, and suddenly one day, perhaps in one moment, as in the moment Juliana first kissed me, suddenly a young person wakes up and finds the universe tilting and gasping in front of him. Infinity. So many things are happening for the first time. What young people don’t realize is that so much is happening for the last time as well. The world is both opening and closing at once.
The first kiss, the first ecstasy of love, the play of light in the trees on a particular fall day, the endless flood of strength in our biceps and thighs. We have the illusion that all of this will happen again and again. In a way this falseness of youth is even more painful than the branching channels ahead. For the young are very much aware of the moment of the first kiss, the first ecstasy of love, and so on. They are keenly aware. Their terrible miscalculation is thinking that these moments will repeat in the infinity of time, that their bodies and minds will hold.”
Enjoy the rest of your lives, Graduates of the Class of 2006!