Athens Review, Athens, Texas

Breaking News


June 6, 2013

JAYSON LARSON: Graduates: Flee, get swept away or learn to surf

ATHENS — I’ve got an old political cartoon clipped from a newspaper and taped to the front of the computer in my office.

In it, a little, wide-eyed guy stands on a beach with a floatie around his waist. Roaring in from the right, a wave as high as the entire clipping is curling overhead as he looks above in awe.

The cartoon implies the little guy has three options at this point:

Option A: Flee

Option B: Stand still and get swept out to sea

Option C: Learn to surf

Listen up, Class of 2013. I’m talking to you.

Tomorrow night, your class — some 180 Athens High School students strong — will stand up out of a chair, walk toward the stage, accept a diploma and walk into the next phase of life.

In the next few paragraphs, I’d like to lay out some of the crazy, emotional, unreal, heartbreaking, breathtaking, joy-filled, depressing, exasperating, unforgettable things you will very likely be facing as you transition into adulthood — where the other side of consequences and responsibility can be found. You know, the side where you still have the thrill of getting the keys to the car, but you also have the burden of paying for the insurance, the gas and the tickets, too.

Anyway, I’d like to tell you all about that stuff, but I’m not going to. In fact, I’m not really qualified.

I can tell you what I’ve been through, what I think, what I know (and what I think I know) and what I’ve read. I can tell you my hits and misses, my cherished memories and my regrets. But those things would only describe the experience I’ve had riding my wave.

There’s a wave out there for you, too, and it offers a unique ride. That’s a promise. In a world that offers so few truths, take that one to heart. There is a wave coming. The question is, what are you going to do when it gets here? 

Fourteen years ago, I read a column in the Dallas Morning News written by a man named Trey Graham. Graham, who had been in the Army before taking on a life of ministry, writing and public speaking, shared 50 lessons he had learned in the service.

Applying these principles to your life will help you ride a wave, rather than be swallowed by it. Here’s a sampling of what Graham wrote:

• There’s always someone who outranks you.

• Work hard, even when you are tired and hungry.

• Thank people for their service.

• Reward those who do a good job; correct those who don’t.

• Take care of your own stuff.

• Clean up after yourself.

• Return it after you have borrowed it.

• Always care for the wounded.

• Say, “Yes, sir” and “No, ma’am” and “thank you.”

• Tell the truth all the time, even when it hurts.

• Learn how to respectfully disagree with the boss and then support him when he doesn’t see things your way.

• Admit when you are wrong.

• Honor those who have gone before you; help those who come after you.

• Write letters home.

• When you are in charge, take charge; when you aren’t in charge, support whomever is.

• You can always improve.

Though I haven’t been able to memorize a majority of those points, I’ve put their general lessons to practice in my life — with one of my favorites being Graham’s assertion that, “If you’re not 10 minutes early, you’re late.” I’m still late sometimes, but these words were so impactful to me, a photocopied version of the column is tacked to the wall in the rooms of my 12-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter.

I hope they’ll take them to heart, too, and take that piece of paper off their wall, fold it up and put it in their pocket on the way to wherever that first wave is going to take them.

But enough about them. This is about you. Your life-changing hour is almost here. You might even be able to hear the water rushing in from the horizon line. Are you scared? Excited? Both?

Good. The waves are plentiful and sometimes scary on this side of graduation.

But man, are there some great opportunities for those who choose to surf.

Jayson Larson is editor of the Athens Review. He can be reached at

Text Only
  • kathi New  copy.jpeg The greatest country in the world has hungry children

    No child should go hungry. We are the greatest country in the world, yet we have hungry children.
    An article I recently read said that if a child in school can't afford lunch, they will be given a sandwich and water. I was told the sandwich is cheese between two pieces of bread.
    I hope everyone realizes that is what they serve in the county jail. Not that I know this from personal experience. I was told from someone who did know from experience.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wilson mug.JPG Hakuna Matata, what a wonderful phrase

    Hakuna Matata! What a wonderful phrase.
    Hakuna Matata! Ain't no passing craze.
    It means no worries for the rest of your days.
    It's our problem-free philosophy.
    Hakuna Matata!
    Congratulations, if you have watched the Lion King a couple of times you now have this song stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jeff's mug.jpg It was a week in the depth of heat, then cooler

    Sunday and Monday of this week have been very uncomfortable.  The air conditioner at our house has been down, and the temperature outside and in the house have been way up.
    Thank God for the blessing of the cool temperatures and the rain that fell on Tuesday, then on Wednesday.  It changed things just a little bit.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Time away is necessary for everyone

    I can remember as a kid writing essays on “How I Spent My Summer Vacation.” As the years pass, and we are more in-tune with the workplace, those vacations get shorter and shorter.
    Do you ever have those days  when you just need a vacation? Sometimes you just need to get away.
    Taking time off work should be fun and rejuvenating. We all need a recharge every now and then. But vacations aren't what they use to be. We rarely disconnect ourselves from our jobs.

    July 12, 2014

  • Joe new mug.jpg Student athletes: Time to wake up and get to work

    Hey student athletes, it is about time for you to wake up and get to work.
    Your summer is coming to an end, and the early morning wake up calls for practices are right around the corner.
    I am talking to the football players, volleyball players, cross country kids, band members, drill team members and cheerleaders.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wilson mug.JPG Remember who you are

    Are you running so fast that you have forgotten why you started the race in the first place?
    Life moving at a blistering pace that it is tough to keep up?
    Maybe it is time to stop, take a deep look into the pool of water and remember. Remember who you are.
    On numerous occasions, I have had to do just that. Ironically, various movies have caused me to look inside.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jeff's mug.jpg CSUMC provided a memorable experience

    My wife Jean and I went to a very interesting, and what I consider a very unique event last Saturday night.
    I had heard that the church where we are members, Carroll Springs United Methodist Church, was having an event in which people sitting in the audience would sing their favorite hymns into a microphone.

    July 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rich mug.jpg Independence ultimately won on battlefield

    I always enjoy celebrating Independence Day, and hearing some of the stirring words written in the Declaration of Independence.
    Thomas Jefferson wrote that our Creator has given us certain rights, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The way I see it, if I have life and liberty, that gives me a pretty good start on the third one.
    But as eloquent as our founding fathers were, and how moving the texts they left behind, one fact can’t be overlooked. Our independence was ultimately won and secured on the battlefield.

    July 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • kathi New  copy.jpeg 22 years – and they said it wouldn’t last

    I was a high school senior when I first entered the world of newspapers.
    I found my way to the The Dallas Times Herald after graduation, when a number of kids I went to school with were working part-time at the paper.
    It was summer, and I needed a job. I first applied for what was referred to as the night crew.

    June 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Joe new mug.jpg Roadblocks happen - find a way to power through them

    You ever had writer’s block? Everyone gets it once in a while, especially journalists.
    Charles Bukowski once said, “Writing about a writer's block is better than not writing at all.”
    People always ask “how do you come up with your ideas?” Those are easy when it comes to writing sports, finding the right way to make it intriguing at the start is when it can get interesting.

    June 27, 2014 1 Photo

Biz Marquee
AP Video
Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Obama Seeks Limits on US Company Mergers Abroad Large Family to Share NJ Lottery Winnings U.S. Flights to Israel Resume After Ban Lifted Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans Raw: National Guard Helps Battle WA Wildfires Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee Senators Push to End Hamas Threat in Cease-Fire A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17 Raw: Deadly Storm Hits Virginia Campground Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands