It’s been 12 years since I graduated from high school, and nearly as many since I’ve attended a Pierce County graduation  — until this year. Working at The Times gave me reason to be on the field, capturing memories that will last a lifetime for the now-graduated class of 2019.

I realized while snapping photos of commencement speakers that these kids most likely began Kindergarten the year I graduated from high school. They were starting a new and exciting journey just as I was finishing mine.

I chuckled. 

Aside from a few annoying gray hairs, I don’t feel 12 years removed from where they are now. Where has the time gone? 

The sun was blaring down graduation evening, blistering my neck and shoulders. I plopped down, criss-cross applesauce, in the grass near the stage, and I felt like a kid again, recalling similar evenings on a summer camp ball field. 

I didn’t play much softball growing up, but when I did, I was always put deep in the outfield. I’d lounge in the grass, casually watching the game unfold around the bases as I plucked blades of grass and rolled them between my fingers. The odds of me seeing any action were slim to none, so I would daydream. The game continued, but I had checked out innings ago.

Graduates fanned themselves furiously, squinting as the sun started to slip away. Many looked as if they’d like to join me on the grass. The ceremony continued, graduates stood, accepted diplomas, moving deftly through the steps they’d rehearsed hours before, but were they really in the game, or were their minds elsewhere? 

Do they realize the gravity of this moment, I wondered? Will they scramble when someone yells ‘heads up!’ and dash for the ball too late in this game called life? 

I’ve been there, done that.

Yes, life is full of missed opportunities  — oftentimes because folks weren’t paying attention  —  but does it matter?

The game continues. 

Life moves on. 

Perhaps we shouldn’t take things so seriously after all.

These graduates don’t have it all figured out yet, and that’s okay. Twelve years down the road I don’t have all the answers for professional success, wealth and meaningful relationships either, but I love what I do and that’s what matters most.

I was reminded of that truth recently when a new graduate came to see me.

Braxton Harris is headed west to pursue a dream. (You can read about it soon in The Times). I was amazed at his courage and excitement for the future  — a future for which he knows few details, yet he’s nonplussed by the unknown. He’s counting down the days until he can hop in his truck and head on an adventure.

A few days later I met with Patricia James. She recently retired as a carrier for the Blackshear mail route. For more than 30 years, James has delivered the mail to families all over town, driving hundreds of thousands of miles in blistering heat much like what we endured graduation night.

Why? 

Because she “loves her people.” 

Ironically, James didn’t set out to be a mail carrier. She stumbled on her dream job by chance.

I have a feeling things will work out for Harris, too.

And, I already know all will shake out good for me. Everyday I wake up, grab my coffee and head out the door ... to share life stories like James’ and Harris’ with all of you! (Read all about Patricia James’ adventures on the mail route in this week’s edition of The Blackshear Times.)

• Sarah Tarr Gove is news editor of The Blackshear Times. Email her at sgove@theblacksheartimes.com.