Unblocking the Sun

I was waiting at the college graduation. We, the non-graduates, sat in folding chairs on a wide lawn under the wide New England sky.

And in the wide New England sky, the May sun was unpredictable. Sometimes it exploded above us. Sometimes it got blocked behind the cloud mass. Down below at the graduation, people put on sunblock, took off jackets. Put them back on again.

I was there for the undergraduate ceremony. Most everyone on the wide lawn was. But we would have to wait. A dozen or so Ph.D. candidates were up first.

One candidate's name was read. The folding chairs applauded mildly. A kind of 'Okay, okay. But let's get on with the real show' clap.

Another name was read. Again, the chairs gave mild applause. Then the third name.

The chairs began the predictable clap. Except for one. One folding chair a few seats over from me was empty. The former occupant - a man wearing a short-sleeve collared shirt - was on his feet.

He cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled over the folding chairs, "THAT'S MY BOY!"

The people in their chairs turned. They stared. And then they clapped. Not mildly. But loudly. A few cupped their hands around their mouths and whooped.

With three words, that man reminded the crowd that this was not a mild moment. This was a moment arrived at by way of resolve, wonder, ideas broken and ideas reconfigured, getting stuck and getting unstuck, disappointment, and some form of love.

Which is, in fact, the definition of every moment. We didn't get here by way of sugar and spice. We arrive at this moment with massive, complicated, unpredictable life shining under our belts.

We can forget. We can lose the sun behind the cloud cover. We can think this moment is just another mild point in time. Then someone comes along in a short-sleeve collared shirt. And reminds us of the full story.

But it doesn't have to come clothed in a short-sleeve collared shirt. Any one of us can unblock the sun.

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