While recently cleaning out my junk room, I came across an untaped dusty box sitting in the far corner on the shelf.
Normally I mark my boxes.
Guess I missed this one.
I reached over, pulled it down and sneezed a couple of times as I popped it open.
I found some old pictures that had hung in my bedroom while I was a teenager. Snapshots of me and my friends at ballgames.
One of me sleeping on the sofa at a friend’s house.
Several goofy beach photos.
My high school diploma with graduation pic.
Then I found a framed cross-stitch pattern that had yellowed with age. Some of the paper backing crumbled in my fingers while I held it.
A very dear friend gave it to me for graduation, just months before she passed away from cancer.
It said, “When the tassel is turned, a new journey begins. You may not know where you’re going, but so long as you spread your wings the wind will carry you.”
There’s not enough space here to explain my travels since the night I turned my tassel, the last action that concluded my days of education that helped prepare me for life in the real world.
Over the past week, seniors from Southern Wayne, Spring Creek and North Duplin — nearly 500 in all — walked across the stage and received their diploma.
And a new life began when they turned their tassel.
Congratulations class of 2020.
You’re a group of gifted students who have lived through natural disasters and a virus that all but stopped the world in its tracks.
You are our future.
Though you may not have chosen your path, there are full-time mothers, educators, nurses, doctors, technology whizzes, farmers, law enforcement officers, CEOs, professional athletes, coaches, military soldiers and reservists who exist among you. You have the ability to change your communities and make the world a better place.
Attack what you do with a passion because that fuels your motivation and allows you to push past obstacles.
It sounds like a daunting challenge, but in recent months we’ve learned, as a society, that life is a precious commodity that can be taken from us at any time. It’s always going to be filled with adversity and should never, ever be taken for granted.
When you wake up each day, rejoice.
When you lay down to sleep each night, rejoice.
And always remember that great things await you.
Rudy Coggins is the assistant editor of the Mount Olive Tribune.