Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Milestone: High School Graduation

Yesterday, my partner Philip and I drove by the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion where a large crowd was gathering.  It was a warm, clear afternoon and folks looked to be in a happy mood, gleefully anticipating whatever entertainment was on offer.

As it turns out, they were gathering for one of the local high school's graduation ceremony.  Before I knew what was happening, Philip began to reminisce about our boy Joaquin's graduation, now 4 long years ago.  Joaquin is really Philip's brother's grandson (so, Philip's great nephew).  And while he is no direct relation to me, Joaquin will always be "Our Boy".

The story of how Joaquin became "our boy" is important but many of you LIVED those details along with Philip and me (thank you for that).  It was both an opportunity and an obligation that we couldn't have foreseen in our rather "unconventional" lives. 

Philip and I fulfilled the commitment we made to Joaquin that we would see him through those important high school years.  We gave him unconditional love, a safe, secure, comfortable home, regular nutritious meals (we always had dinner together at home),  the time and means to participate in extracurricular activities, church & religious instruction, our involvement in his life and the discipline of boundaries set by those who care about you.  Sounds like a winning formula, huh?

Raising a child is the ultimate example of how extraneous factors can sabotage the best of intentions.  No matter how you plan, no matter how much you care, despite your best efforts, you simply cannot control the outcome!  I have likened children to diamonds and the role of parent to that of the diamond cutter.  You can cleave the stone, facet it, polish it and mount it in any number of different settings.  But you CANNOT change its innate, molecular structure.  The essence which makes a diamond or a child a unique entity is impervious to external matter how good-intentioned they might be.

To put it plainly, Joaquin's high school graduation was a milestone event for all who know and care about him.  Perhaps Philip and I overloaded it with significance.  Perhaps without knowing it, we made it as much about us as we did about Joaquin.  As with so many of the truly "important" things in life, it's hard to be sure.  But there's no denying that it was a turning point.  Four long years later, we can't pass a high school graduation without wondering:  did we do the best we could, would we change anything, was there one pivotal moment that we missed that would have made a difference?

Joaquin launched from his foundation, went on to college and landed a job with a promising future at a recognized leader in the petroleum industry.  Moreover, the Joaquin of today undoubtedly shows signs of our influence.  In the great scheme of things, I can live with that!

The questions that I can answer with certainty are:  

Would I have missed the opportunity if I'd known what I know now, in advance?  NO!

Would I ever do it again?  NO!

Having had Joaquin in our lives taught me one of the most important lessons I'll ever likely learn:  If you undertake a mission, give your very best effort without reservation or hesitation, and never give up, even if it comes up isn't BECAUSE of you, it's IN SPITE of you!  

Our value is determined by the efforts we make, not by the outcomes of those efforts.

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