During the recent International School of Prague graduation ceremony at Zofin Palace, I had the privilege to address the assembled graduates, families, faculty and guests. My words focused on our graduates’ dreams for the future:
The last few months have not doubt been a whirlwind experience for you. With university applications, preparing for and taking exams, and all the many things that happen during the senior year, it’s been a very hectic time.
After 14 years at ISP or at other schools, the landscape of your lives is now about to change. Many of you will immediately go on to university, often far away from family and friends. Some of you will take on different valuable life experiences.
What an exciting and scary time this is for you and your families! Whatever path you are about to embark on, you are entering a new stage in your lives. As one student put it, you are diving into the river of life!
Each of our graduates has their hopes and dreams for the future…Many things have been said about dreams
Philosophical: Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. Henry Thoreau
Mystical: Trust in dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity. Kahil Gibran
Poetic: Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly. Langston Hughes
Darwinian: Dreams come true; without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them. John Updike
So dreams are natural to human beings, but they are also fleeting things, are they not? I find it curious that when referring to our future aspirations we talk about our dreams. But dreaming is what we do when we’re asleep. Dreams are usually vague and impressionistic, not concrete.
Why would we evoke dreams to describe our hoped-for future? The answer of course, is that our vision for the future has not yet been realized. And you will only know if your dreams have been realized by looking back on your life. This is not a bad thing, because our dreams shift and transform over time as we ourselves do.
Let us also remember that your dreams are profoundly intertwined with the hopes and dreams of your friends and families and especially your parents. They too have hopes and dreams about your future.
And they will certainly have advice for you…which I urge you to seriously take into account. After all your parents have had their life experiences and have learned a thing or two along the way. And while the times have changed from when your parents were children, good advice and wisdom is precious and timeless.
Speaking of timeless wisdom, I’d like to read to you a poem written over a century ago, by Eugene Field, called The Dreams. It speaks of two different but intertwined dreams shared silently between a parent and a child
Two dreams came down to earth one night
From the realm of mist and dew;
One was a dream of the old, old days,
And one was a dream of the new.
One was a dream of a shady lane
That led to the pickerel pond
Where the willows and rushes bowed themselves
To the brown old hills beyond.
And the people that peopled the old-time dream
Were pleasant and fair to see,
And the dreamer he walked with them again
As often of old walked he.
Oh, cool was the wind in the shady lane
That tangled his curly hair!
Oh, sweet was the music the robins made
To the springtime everywhere!
?Was it the dew the dream had brought
From yonder midnight skies?
Or was it tears from the dear, dead years
That lay in the dreamer’s eyes?
The other dream ran fast and free,
As the moon benignly shed
Her golden grace on the smiling face
In the little trundle-bed.
For ‘t was a dream of times to come–
Of the glorious noon of day–
Of the summer that follows the careless spring
When the child is done with play.
And ‘t was a dream of the busy world
Where valorous deeds are done;
Of battles fought in the cause of right,
And of victories nobly won.
It breathed no breath of the dear old home
And the quiet joys of youth;
It gave no glimpse of the good old friends
Or the old-time faith and truth.
But ‘t was a dream of youthful hopes,
And fast and free it ran,
And it told to a little sleeping child
Of a boy become a man!
These were the dreams that came one night
To earth from yonder sky;
These were the dreams two dreamers dreamed–
My little boy and I.
And in our hearts my boy and I
Were glad that it was so;
He loved to dream of days to come,
And I of long ago.
So from our dreams my boy and I
But neither of his precious dream
Unto the other spoke.
Yet of the love we bore those dreams
Gave each his tender sign;
For there was triumph in his eyes–
And there were tears in mine!
As a parent, I can relate to the bittersweet message of this poem. Parents and children are at the same time so close yet apart, each with their own dreams that hopefully can in some ways intertwine. So graduates perhaps on behalf of your parents I can say to you, go and live your dreams and remember those who love you. Because with their love, experience and wisdom, they can help you reach your dreams
Congratulations and thank you!