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Isabel sent me this note from Southern California where she attended her first grandkid’s graduation:
Andy Frias (or Mana, as I have always called her) is the first of my grandchildren to graduate. And she did it with honors! The rest of the family and I were very proud of Mana and happy to be together after months of separation. The whole tribe met at the ceremony in Pitzer. Alejandro and Sabrina are also studying in the area, Nicole traveled from New York, Lori, Nico, Celia, Sally and I from Marin County, etc. Cali, Alejandro’s girlfriend, and Devin, Nicole’s boyfriend, also attended. Devin interrupted for a day and a night his hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, from Mexico to Canada; he has already walked 500 miles and will be hiking until the end of September. The extended family and friends filled two rows of chairs and screamed to their hearts’ content when Mana, with her white and orange gown and her bright pink hair (not a wig) received her diploma.
The speaker, Van Jones, environmental and civil rights activist was absolutely great. He was profound, funny and inspirational. He talked about facts versus truth; ego versus soul; and fate versus destiny. As an activist, he has been in situations in which all the economic and political facts were against him, but he fought for the right cause – truth – and he won. He said that his ego got very big when he was working with Obama at the White House, and then it was smashed by hateful press from Fox News; but he recovered his energy and his vision when he could do his work from the soul. The soul cannot be smashed. He explained that fate is what we are given at birth, like race, gender, nationality, health or disabilities, etc. and often we cannot change it. But each one of us also has destiny. A tiny acorn’s destiny is to become an oak tree. Like the acorn, we can fulfill our destiny or not. That is our life’s work. At the end he told the graduates: don’t let the facts discourage you, search for the truth; keep your ego small and your soul big; whatever your fate may be, go out in the world and fulfill your destiny.