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Have you been caught up in graduations this spring? Did you have a child, a grandchild, a sibling wear the cap and gown and switch the tassel?

With our granddaughter Emily’s high school graduation last week, we hit the halfway mark in getting all of the young’uns out from under their parents’ feet and on to the next phase of their lives.

Four down, four to go.

Not that we had much to do with her education. Although we’d like to have kept her safe in school forever, Emily was in a hurry to be done with studying for a while. She even managed to graduate before her 17th birthday so she could have some time away from classes before buckling down to what comes next.

We were all excited to crowd into the auditorium and compare notes with other grandparents and parents seated around us. We expected the events onstage to be the same boring speeches we had all heard before.

We were wrong. The main speaker was that county’s school superintendent, and he gave his entire address turned away from the audience so he could face the boys and girls seated there in their black caps and gowns.

Those graduates were teenage deer staring into the headlights of life, eager to go, thinking about everything but what one last educator was saying.

We adults, though, had been around long enough to comprehend the speaker’s message.

He asked the kids to take a few minutes this summer to compile a couple of lists. The first would show the things they are good at, because each of us is unique and has talents. We all are better at some pursuits and worse at others.

Then he told them to make another list, this one with all the things they are passionate about.

Next, he said, compare the lists and see which entries show up on both. Those that match are the ones to devote their lives to. Forget about the others, because they would be a waste of time and talents.

I don’t know whether the idea of those lists was original with the speaker, but it is worth passing along, whether we are a recent graduate or a gray-headed grandparent seated in the audience. If we do something very well and love doing it, why would we want to go any other direction?

His advice was a do-it-yourself version of those career placement tests we all took in high school and college – the ones that ask whether we would rather throw a ball or carve a statue.

Those tests toss a lot of job choices our way but keep rephrasing the questions in such a way that we are surprised when the results are tallied and we find out what areas we would excel in.

Learning isn’t just for graduates. Take time today to compile a couple of lists: your skills and your passions. You might find a different life path, or you might find that you took the right one all along.

Congratulations, Emily.

Reach Glynn Moore at glynn.moore@augustachronicle.com.

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