AUSTIN EDITION -- COL Grads should look inward for fulfillment

A recent Saturday was a busy day with celebrations all over town for graduating seniors and thousands here from out of town for the Spam Museum's grand opening celebration. The weather was beautiful -- typical June, no bugs -- as I headed for Julia Heiny's graduation reception, given by parents Dani and Bruce.

Relatives and friends of all ages spilled out the front door, onto sidewalks and lawn and to chairs and tables set up in the leafy greenness of the back yard leading down to the Red Cedar River. Sister Ruth snapped Julia's picture with each arriving guest, and aunts led the way to a feast.

It was a happy occasion, complete with photos on display of Julia at every age. Fixed to the garage door were big squares of poster board titled "Love," "Money" and "Life." Guests were to write words of wisdom for Julia in one of those categories. I chose Life and borrowed from Ralph Waldo Emerson: "What lies behind us and before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."

I wish that realization for Julia, and for another graduate -- Jason Nolan, son of Tom and Jan, a former Austin resident who now lives in Mankato. Tom was an announcer for many years on KAUS radio, and Jan was a staff member at Austin Medical Center's Adult Community Treatment Program.

The children and grandchildren of my friends are coming into adulthood. I'm betwixt and between graduates in my own family this year. Granddaughter Kate will finish four years at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire next year, and grandson Ross will graduate from Park of Cottage Grove next June.


My wish for them and for all 2002 graduates of Austin High and Pacelli will be the same. I wish them years of achievement based on service, the kind of service that comes from looking inward and discovering oneself.

Life marches on. Times change. But Emerson's words are strong and have an enduring value:

"That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do; not that the nature of the thing itself is changed, but that our power to do is increased."

Betty Benner has lived in Austin since the early 1950s. She is a writer, poet, sometime storyteller and retired human services worker. The Post-Bulletin publishes locally written columns by Austin residents on Mondays on an occasional basis.

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