The graduation ceremony for my Putnam Leadership class was last week. No ”Pomp and Circumstance” or caps and gowns, but it included speeches by the leaders of the program, announcements of our activities and achievements, and presentation of our graduation certificates. Plus a nice dinner and a gift bag. In addition to the graduates and instructors, several city and county officials attended the event.

I always find occasions such as this to be bittersweet, representing both an ending and a beginning. They bring an end to activities I have enjoyed and learned from, and to regular contact with people whose company I have also enjoyed and learned from. The beginning comes from asking the question, “Now what?” Or, more specifically, “So what do I do with what I just learned?”

The answers depend on why I was taking the class in the first place. I fully subscribe to the school of thought that says you’re never too old to learn, and over the years I’ve taken part in many classes, workshops, and other educational programs. Although I’ve never formally pursued an advanced degree, I’ve taken some Masters-level courses, lots of writing-related classes, and a number of offerings that I took just for fun or just out of curiosity.

The leadership program gave me insights into the workings of government, businesses, and organizations in my community, and strengthened my networks within and among the groups I belong to. I’m not planning on running for office or getting involved in local politics, but I do think everything I’ve learned and everyone I’ve met in the class will help me do a better job in the roles and responsibilities I already hold.

Still, you never know. Quite often, one thing leads to another that we never anticipated when we first set out on a specific path. There are so many interesting and intriguing routes we can follow in this ever-changing world, whether they relate to our jobs, our hobbies and leisure activities, other interests, or something we simply want to know more about – whether or not we have any knowledge or experience on the subject.

There’s a saying that goes, “If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?” I understand and agree with the need for a life plan and a roadmap to guide us, but I also think we should be open to side trips, detours, and diversions that can lead us to other ideas and opportunities we never even thought about before.

I don’t know what’s coming next in my life. But if there are new adventures you’re thinking of pursuing, new subjects you’d like to study, or new paths you want to follow, I hope you’ll do so. And I’d love to hear about them.

I may even decide to join you. Just lead the way.

May 2, 2022
©Betty Liedtke, 2022