To The Graduating Class of 2015

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Pathmaker, your footsteps are
the path, and nothing more;
Pathmaker, there is no path,
the path is made by walking.
By walking one makes the path,
and upon glancing behind
one sees the path
that never will be trod again.
Pathmaker, there is no path—
only wakes upon the sea.
–Antonio Machado

I’ve never given a graduation speech. I’ve never been a valedictorian. I’ve never had significant honors to speak of. But I have some things to say.

And so do you.

Graduation is a threshold into a vast world of uncharted territory. For most of you, the past 20 something years have been a more-or-less set path that moved you from grade to grade, school to school, and eventually to college.

You’ve reached the end of a road. The way forward from here on out is the way that you must create.

There may have been seasons in history when the path was clear. In some ways culture tells us that the path is still clear: go to college, get a job, work your way up to being a manager, and live happily ever after. But that path is less straight and less clear than it ever has been.

Today you can start a business from you laptop. Today you will work many jobs by the time you reach the age of your parents. Today is full of possibilities.

But which possibility will you choose to pursue?

I’m here to ask you to consider one idea: choose to make the world a better place.

You were made to make an impact. You may not know what it is yet. You may not know which way is the best to go, but know that you have something to give and something to create. Start pursuing it. Search for it. Find it.

What you do with your life— how you spend your work week — is an opportunity to build something that matters to you, to others, and to the world.

Don’t miss this: You have something to make in your work.

Don’t let yourself get to the end of your working years only to realize that you never showed up, you never risked, you never took the chance to make something that truly matters.

The path from here for many of you is not clear, but you know more than you think you do.

The poet Antonio Machado said it best: Pathmaker, there is no path. The path is made by walking.


In the comments, share your thoughts for graduates or if you’re a graduate share how it feels to be where you are.


(Photo by Will Folsom/CC)

Dan Cumberland is on a mission to push you into the places meaning, life, & work intersect. He is the author of The Meaning Manifesto. Read more about him here, and connect with him on facebook and twitter.

There Are 2 Comments On This Post.

  1. Dan,
    Thanks for the reminder. Even though I am not a graduate this year it is a very timely message for me to remember.

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