Per­spec­tive: Advice for the newly grad­u­ated: Eat ba­con, ex­plore moun­tains (or val­leys), take risks, don’t wait.

The Denver Post - - DENVER & THE WEST - Christof Stache, AFP/Getty Im­ages By Krista Kafer Krista Kafer is a weekly Den­ver Post colum­nist. Fol­low her on Twit­ter: @kris­takafer

It’s grad­u­a­tion time. Thou­sands of Colorado high school and col­lege stu­dents will toss their mor­tar­boards sky­ward and be­gin the next leg of life’s jour­ney. I don’t re­mem­ber who gave the grad­u­a­tion speech at either com­mence­ment. The speak­ers may have be­stowed pearls of wis­dom, but I was most cer­tainly day­dream­ing. Can I make up for it now?

Chicago Tri­bune colum­nist Mary Sch­mich once ob­served that “In­side ev­ery adult lurks a grad­u­a­tion speaker dy­ing to get out, some world-weary pun­dit ea­ger to pon­tif­i­cate on life to young peo­ple who’d rather be Rollerblad­ing.” In the spirit of her un­for­get­table advice to grads, here’s what I’d say to all those day­dream­ers.

Ladies and gentle­men of the class of 2018: Eat ba­con. If for health or religious rea­sons you must eat the turkey or ve­gan variety, fine, but eat ba­con. Prefer­ably crispy. Take care of your­self but don’t ob­sess on your health. You’ve got more im­por­tant things to do.

Go home and pack your bags. Move to New York City or Los An­ge­les or Nashville. Pur­sue a dream. Get out of your com­fort zone. Join the Peace Corps. Work on an off­shore oil rig. Teach art in a lit­tle school in the mid­dle of Alaska. After grad­u­a­tion, I drove to Wash­ing­ton D.C. in a car that nearly didn’t make it and knocked on door after door un­til I got a job as a con­gres­sional aide. It was worth it.

You can al­ways move home. Once you have a house and a fam­ily and back­yard chick­ens, you can’t eas­ily move away. So go while you can.

And don’t worry if you have what it takes. Per­se­ver­ance and hard work mat­ter more than tal­ent or in­tel­li­gence. Frankly, it doesn’t even mat­ter where you went col­lege. If you’re $100,000 in debt to an Ivy League univer­sity, I’m sorry to break that to you. If you grad­u­ated from a state school, don’t sweat the com­pe­ti­tion. You can make up through hard work what­ever ad­van­tage an elite school de­gree has con­ferred to your peers.

Most dreams are achiev­able. Oc­ca­sion­ally though you’ll come to a moun­tain that can’t be climbed, so ex­plore the val­ley. A dead end can be a new be­gin­ning. Dis­ap­point­ments will come. Be re­silient. Be open to new dreams.

Are you look­ing for a job that has an ex­cel­lent salary and ben­e­fits, fos­ters cre­ativ­ity and per­sonal growth, al­lows you to set your own hours, pro­vides op­por­tu­ni­ties for ad­vance­ment, pro­motes col­lab­o­ra­tion with amaz­ing peo­ple, is se­cure over time, and en­ables you to im­pact the world in a deeply mean­ing­ful and positive way? Good luck. There isn’t one. Ev­ery job pays dif­fer­ently. De­cide what’s im­por­tant to you and seek it out. Don’t com­plain about your own de­ci­sions.

Mem­o­rize po­etry, Shake­speare, and Scrip­ture. The words will come to you when you’re weary. They will guide you through murky wa­ters and rag­ing storms.

Don’t be too cer­tain of your own good­ness. When there are cul­tural and le­gal in­cen­tives to act hon­or­ably most peo­ple will do so and pat them­selves on the back. When the in­cen­tives turn, a great many peo­ple will con­form to ex­pec­ta­tions. We’d like to think we would have been the ones to hide Jews and Tut­sis from those who sought to mur­der them in cold blood. Don’t be so sure. Most peo­ple, or­di­nary peo­ple, co­op­er­ated or cow­ered. What makes so you dif­fer­ent?

Cul­ti­vate in­ter­nal in­cen­tives – virtues – to coun­ter­bal­ance ex­ter­nal ex­pec­ta­tions. Be will­ing to sac­ri­fice to stand up for what is right. There will be a price, but it won’t be re­gret.

Seek truth. Read the news­pa­per. Read books. Talk to peo­ple whose ex­pe­ri­ence dif­fers from your own. Travel. The hu­man mind does not au­to­mat­i­cally seek truth but rather looks to con­firm what it al­ready be­lieves to be true. Your Face­book feed is a small space. Es­cape it.

Fi­nally, take a hike with a friend. En­joy the beauty that is all around us. Vol­un­teer. Go to a con­cert. Get an in­ter­est­ing hobby. Stop and smell the ba­con.

A hiker takes a break in front of Ger­many’s high­est moun­tain, Zugspitze, (9,718 feet) in the Alps.

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