Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Opinion

June 12, 2014

Class of 2014: Do what you love -- and unplug

A resounding cheer to all our local graduates in this season of pomp and circumstance. We wish them all the best as they pursue their college or working careers.

Graduation season is the time when the old and wise offer unsolicited advice to the young and restless. Here’s ours: Do what you love. The second part of that old saw is typically “... and the money will follow.”

We’re realists enough to understand that some career paths offer more financial rewards than others. So if your passion is investment banking, go for it. But if your true love is art, music or helping the homeless, follow that dream with the same gusto. In doing so, you may not be destined for fame and fortune. But at least, at age 50, you won’t wake up each day with a feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach. A lifetime of happiness and fulfillment beats one of regret and missed opportunity every time.

Andover High School fine art teacher, himself on the cusp of retiring from a job he has loved, offered some important advice to the Golden Warriors’ graduating class in our hyper-connected age.

As students and parents joyfully snapped cellphone photos of themselves and their friends, Parker sounded a counter-note. He urged students to consider their lives outside social media and the Internet.

“We are always connected,” Parker said. “But how meaningful are these connections?

“LOL, emojis and smiley faces are not replacements for meaningful conversations,” he added. “Don’t let this infatuation with technology define you.”

Parker urged students to put down their cellphones and tablets every now and then and enjoy life as it is happening in real time.

“Unplug,” Parker said. “Listen to each other.

“Nobody wants to see pictures of your food anyway,” he joked.

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