Commencement

In two days’ time, the Shelby County High School Class of 2017 will have their commencement…

…and just over a week later…so will I.

———

I’ve admired the mind and work of Joseph Campbell since Mrs. Sandra Lott introduced The Power of Myth during a graduate seminar in which I was enrolled at the University of Montevallo in 1989.

I was enthralled by his Jungian-influenced concepts of the mythic archetype and The Hero’s Journey and amazed at the universality of the presence of those in human culture from ancient oral tradition and texts all the way to contemporary media.

(Lord have mercy, y’all. Those were some four-dollar words right there.)

Anyway, Campbell also talked about “following your bliss.”

I understood that concept but never thought it would apply to my life…until just over a month ago.

Joseph Campbell had this to say:

“Follow your bliss.
If you do follow your bliss,
you put yourself on a kind of track
that has been there all the while waiting for you,
and the life you ought to be living
is the one you are living.

When you can see that,
you begin to meet people
who are in the field of your bliss,
and they open the doors to you.

I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid,
and doors will open
where you didn’t know they were going to be.

If you follow your bliss,
doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.”

(I’ve taken some liberties with the formatting, but the words are his.)

Considering Campbell’s statements, as I look back over my first month of publicly sharing my writing – realizing and beginning to follow my bliss – I am amazed at the parallels.

Truth be told, they slap me right in the jaw, they’re so obvious.

———

In two days’ time, the Shelby County High School Class of 2017 will have their commencement…

…and just over a week later…so will I.

I am retiring from a career I have loved for more than three decades, and I will be leaving an environment I have loved for nearly five…school.

I crossed the threshold of Maplesville Elementary School in 1968.

I spent twenty years as a student and thirty-two as a professional educator. (A few years overlapped as I completed grad school while teaching.)

Shelby County High School has been my home away from home for twenty-two of those thirty-two years.

At SCHS, I’ve outlasted five principals and six assistant principals…and don’t get me started on the number of guidance counselors….

I’ve worked in Montevallo, in Vincent, and in Columbiana.

In each school, I’ve been privileged to work with dozens of colleagues and thousands of students who will always be “my kids.” So many of them moved into my heart and set up housekeeping and remain there still.

I’ve heard for years and years, “You’ll know when it’s time.”

I kept wondering, “How? How will I know?”

I never did find an answer to that “How” question.

But I know. Now.

It’s time.

I love and will miss my coworkers, and I love and will miss the students…even the knuckleheads.

On June 1, I will cross the threshold of Shelby County High School for the final time as librarian.

On that day, just over a month shy of fifty-five years old, I will commence…well, ok, continue…to follow my call to adventure – to follow my bliss – as I begin to approach my writing and the sharing of it more purposefully.

For years I figured that my time at Shelby County High School would comprise the last major chapter of the book of my life.  But now, as I continue toddling along this new path that leads to who-knows-where, I see the beginning of another chapter.

Shoot. I see a whole new book.

Steve Latham – May 23, 2017

 

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25 thoughts on “Commencement”

  1. Congratulations on your career in education! I’m looking forward to seeing where you go next. Enjoy!

    1. Thank you, Paulette! I have you to thank for so very much in my career as a librarian. There will never be adequate words to express my love and my gratitude.

  2. I am thrilled for you and so excited that you found your bliss and are brave enough to follow it. You go Steve.
    Love you and I will be reading your stories.
    Nancy Law.

    1. Thank you, Nancy. It is an adventure and I’m excited about the mystery of it all! Love you, too, and I’m so glad that you’ll be following along!

  3. I’m looking forward to seeing where the adventure leads. I ready to not only to “hear those wheels” but to where they take you
    Tim

    1. Let’s go, Tim! Keep reading…never know when the story of “hear those wheels” is going to show up.

  4. You have always been one of my favorite colleagues and I wish you all the best in this next chapter of life!

  5. Now maybe we can finally rent that limo we’ve talked about for 20 years! So excited for your next adventures!

    1. “I’m 6’2″…so I’ll jump and…..” That story will come, Tom – just wait and see, brother!

    1. Thank you, Janet. I have no idea where the path’s going to lead, but I’m ready for the adventure!

  6. Congratulations and best wishes as you continue your life’s journey. I am glad you have Joseph Campbell as friend and companion, and I am excited about the prospect of podcasts and book.

    1. Sandra, I have you to thank for the life-changing introduction to Joseph Campbell. I’ve told you a few other times what your instruction, your mentorship, and your friendship have meant to me over the years. That continues.

  7. So excited for you and can’t wait to read your book in the future! (Because I just know you will!)
    Congratulations on a successful career and exciting future!
    Best wishes!
    The retired folks need to plan a yearly lunch somewhere!

  8. Awwww….this made me all leaky eyed!!! Some of my very favorite memories were right at the door of that library!!! The guidance counselor remark made me LOL!! I’m so excited for you….I can’t wait to see where it all leads. Congrats on the retirement!!

  9. Oh, congratulations! Goodie for all of us! It’s about time you follow this bliss! 😊Looking forward to seeing where it takes you and us who follow. Much Love and good wishes, Steve. ❤️
    ~~Penny

  10. So happy for you! It was a pleasure to have been a colleague, and I anticipate reading your best seller someday soon!

  11. Steve, following your bliss isn’t just good for you–it’s good for us who need companionship along the Bliss Way. Let’s keep an eye out for one another!

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