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Hackett: Respecting the journey

Recent graduations have offered some time for reflection
Byron Hackett Managing Editor

Watching graduates cross the stage in various forms over the past two weeks jump-started a course of reflection for me. 

There were several high school graduations, which got me thinking back to my own high school graduation nearly 17 years ago. I try hard to close my eyes and think back to that day and the moments leading up to it. 

The details don't really stick. The colours of the cap and gowns seem faded – the moments before or after crossing the stage, which I'm sure carried some nerves, don't really hold any weight in my memory either. 

I remember our valedictorian and being moved by his words at the time, but those exact words didn't stick either. I can't say for certain, but maybe they subconsciously helped chart a path. One of adventure, discovery and passion, but it's hard to say for sure. 

A few memories stand out vividly though. One was a senior prank gone comically wrong and the other, being young and making poor decisions. 

My friends and I thought it would be genius to write a message to our graduating class, on a field that could be seen from a large window in the school. Our school team was the Rebels, and we had "Rebels Pride inside" scrawled across the wall. 

We thought it would be funny to write, "Rebels Pride Outside- Class of 2007" on the field outside the school. Fortunately, my friend and I had access to a supply shed for the local baseball fields and we got chalk for the lines to write our message. Late at night, we ventured to the school to write our message. Unfortunately, half way through, we ran out of chalk. 

We racked our brains and came up with a solution. We grabbed numerous boxes of laundry detergent from a grocery store that was open 24/7 to finish the message. 

Little did we know, being young and dumb, that detergent would burn the grass, leaving our half-written message virtually unreadable and stuck there for far too long. 

The other, was enjoying a late night with friends and camping in a tent, the night before track zone finals. My dad showed up to drive me to the meet, which was a good hour and half drive away. I was nowhere near 100 per cent for my event, I still feel a slight disappointment all these years later. 

There's a third one too, a minor, sillier one. I wore a white t-shirt that I thought wouldn't be seen under my gown, only to realize that we had to give the gown back quickly, and plenty of my friends wanted to take pictures at that gathering. There's far too many photos of my friends all dressed up nicely, with me wearing a white, tattered "athlete of the week" shirt. Ridiculous.

It's funny how, all these years later, the things that manage to stick. 

It's hard to pack the journeys beyond that moment into 1,000 words or less, but reflecting back, I smile and laugh at these ridiculous memories. You can't help but wonder what that 17-year-old must have been thinking about the future and where it would take him. 

He certainly had no appreciation for the journey, always eager for the next thing – the right away thing.  

I wish I could talk to him, to tell him to enjoy the little things, to appreciate the small moments. Stop and smell the roses. 

There's going to be ups and downs, highs and lows. It's all part of the journey. Life isn't about that next accomplishment or that next goal, it's about enjoying the things on the way to those places. If you never stop adventuring – if you never stop pursuing then that journey becomes the story. 

If you focus too much on accomplishing great things or accomplishments in general, you forget to really commit those little moments along the way that helped make them possible. You forget to appreciate the people who helped make the path possible and guided you further along it if you were lost or confused. 

I think I wanted to write this, as maybe a message to my younger self and those who wish they could travel back in time to give their teenage version of themselves a message –  that life isn't measured by accomplishments. It's not measured by goalposts or wins and loses. No one is keeping score. 

Instead, I think it's measured by the feelings.

You'll remember the feelings long after the colours fade and the words become illusive. 

The journey will be long and winding, but even if you're not too sure where you're going, enjoy it. Embrace the journey, remember to look around every once in a while, and be proud of what you've learned along the way. 

Byron Hackett is the Managing Editor of the Red Deer Advocate and Regional Editor for Black Press Media.




Byron Hackett

About the Author: Byron Hackett

I have been apart of the Red Deer Advocate Black Press Media team since 2017, starting as a sports reporter.
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