Opinion: Outside In


To The Class of 2021

By David Weinstein

Driving down Coast Highway, I pass a car decorated with congratulations for the Laguna Beach High School graduating class of 2021. On its window it reads “Way to go Megan.” In normal times this would elicit a knowing smile and a thumbs up from me, but these haven’t been “normal times.” I think of what poor Megan must have gone through over the past two school years and compare it to my high school experience and that of my kids, who have long since graduated. It compels me to roll down my window and thrust my arm out in a clenched fist salute to Megan—“Way to go, girl!”

These are the kids whose lives we thought we could curate, to whom preschool was a career path, and who have now suffered through almost a year and a half of countless hours of classes in front of a small computer screen of digitized portraits, seeing and hearing, but never quite feeling the presence of their classmates. Mostly sequestered from friends and acquaintances, they’ve missed many of the life-altering experiences, both good and bad, that mold a young person into the grown-up they will eventually become. No dances, young love, and the irreplaceable friendships that can only develop at a juncture when time is not bound by the limits of adult life.

But this will all be in the past, because on the evening of June 10, they will have walked across Laguna Beach High School’s Guyer Field into their future. I can’t help but wonder if this group of kids might come away from their high school experience with a different perspective. I’m reminded of a scene from the Jimmy Stewart movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, when George Bailey, played by Stewart, gets a glimpse of an alternate, harsher, more impersonal world. Clarence, his guardian angel, says, “You’ve been given a great gift, George. A chance to see what the world would have been.”

When these kids started on their journey, they never bargained for this, but perhaps they’ve come through stronger and more resilient, and resilience is an important quality. Life throws a lot of curve balls, and you have to be able to hit the curve to play in the major leagues. So, for that graduating senior who said they wanted to become an anesthesiologist, I commend you for your specificity. But hey, even if you wind up a proctologist, just remember: it’s never bad to see things from both ends of the spectrum.

And now I will bore you graduates with some advice because I’m old, and this is what old people do. First, remember to squander some time, at least this summer, and certainly before you head off to college to ponder vexing questions like “what did flying insects do before electric lights?” And while you are squandering also remember to have some fun. The memories and bonds you create now, you’ll carry forward for a lifetime. And even when you’re as old and irascible as me, they’ll bring a smile. Life and all its responsibilities will catch up to you soon enough. Trust me, it will all go by too fast.

Finally, here’s a wish for the only two lasting gifts we can hope to give to our young—roots and wings. Congratulations Class of 2021. Go out and make a difference.

David and his steadfast partner congratulate the class of 2021 for their dedication and persistence.

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