Monday, May 28, 2007

Goal in Life: Never to Waste a Three Day Weekend--

It's been fifteen years since I've been to a graduation. Back then I could barely concentrate on Tom Foley, our keynote speaker, as I was thinking about leaving for Europe the next day with my best friend. The ceremony came and went while I imagined flying into Paris, thought about what I still needed to pack, and carrying too much sense of responsibility for a twenty-something, but just enough hope. That day, I walked away from the University of Washington amazed I was actually through with school and in disbelief that there would be no more homework, thrilled that I would now get a chance to finally experience "the real world."

If I ever write a graduation address, my theme will be "the real world" and the fact that there isn't a real world out there waiting for you, but that "the real world" begins the moment you take your first breath on this earth. A corporate job, a steady paycheck, someone to check in with daily or someone to sign your timecard--this is not what makes "the real world," these are just things we may get stuck doing as adults. The real world is not built out of nice cars and Jimmy Choo shoes, despite the makings of a very fine appearance, almost enough to make one think that she could truly *find* the real world just by glancing into a department store window and choosing the correct outfit.

But the real world is what is created out of passion. Out of the moments you listen to that inner voice and trust it, even when it's telling you to step out of line from what the rest of your world, country, community, friends, or tribe is doing. It's trusting the very idea of a desire. It's putting all your eggs in one basket, running down a bumpy hill, and realizing it was the delicate eggs that helped you keep your balance.

Yesterday, as I sat in a graduation again and tried to keep my mind on the names of other students who were being called, I thought about our individual journeys on earth. Even when my heart was pounding as someone placed my brown graduate hood over my head and pushed me towards the stage. Even as I walked up the stairs holding the yellow index card that read: Master of Fine Arts and I realized I was the first graduate to walk across the stage for PLU's new MFA program. I tried to stay in the moment and yet I wanted to remember all I've gone through to find myself here.

And after I crossed the stage, face forward, saying, Thank you, and returning to my chair, I knew the basket of eggs I had carried these last three years could be set down and that passion was more than the name of the toenail polish I chose the day and the lipstick shade I purchased three hours before the ceremony. Passion was what I needed to carry from this point on, not delicate dreams or the sense of direction of anyone else. Not a sweet disposition or anything else they can teach in charm school, what I needed to be in my real world was a passionate life. And it has always been found in three things for me: family, friends, and writing. So, I will continue to run down hills (barefoot) with the faith that if I fall, I will get up again and if I arrive with pockets of wildflowers, an open hand, and a poem, it will be then I will know I've succeeded.


  1. Congrats on the accomplishment, Kelli. Your post is very inspirational. I've been holding off on going back - to go after a degree in creative writing - but this is leaning me towards that direction.

  2. Thanks, Nick!

    Good luck on whatever you decide. The program was life changing for me. It's only been a good thing.

  3. Kelli:

    What a wonderfully written, insightful blog entry.

    Congratulations on the MFA!

  4. Oh my god, Kelli, you made me cry. I wish I could have seen you guys graduate, but I was busy blubbering at the local high school graduation. Those threshold events are so important. I'm sure you have plenty of passion to keep you on poetry's road.


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