The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing

Craig Hall

I never watched all of “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.” But for you high school graduates, they got it right. Since I’ll never get asked, here’s what I’d say in a speech to grads.

I graduated from Monroe High School in 1979 with absolutely no clue what life was gonna throw at me. Case in point, I thought if I could make $15,000 a year at “Fords” — no one called it Ford Motor Company where I grew up, we just said Fords, or GM, Chrysler, AMC (YES! American Motors Corporation, there was such a thing) or Jeep (which was its own deal way back when) — I’d be set for life.

Or I could get a job at a tier one supplier, the folks who made seats, dashboards and literally every device or part needed the auto industry didn’t make in their factories. In my area of Southeastern Michigan, they were plentiful. Or maybe even a job at one of the new steel mills. That’s right. When I was a teen-age, they were still building steel mills in the good ol’ US of A.

Even if that didn’t work out, I could always get a job at one of the new power plants, nuclear or otherwise, that were always under some level of construction.

I didn’t. Instead, I went on Craigy’s Not So Excellent Adventure. It’s been both bogus and beautiful.

Many of you might be thinking, “If only that half-wit would have just stayed in school, none of this would have happened.” Perhaps to some degree you’d be correct. But I didn’t stay in school.
I took what many now refer to as a gap year. Truth be told, I just didn’t want to go to college.  Frankly, I never should have even after that year. Although I did, I used little to none of it in any job I’ve ever had. College isn’t for everyone, so make a good choice there.

I probably would have been better off taking one of those nepotism-laden, special hirings at the aforementioned factories, mills and plants. I really would have. Old friends of mine who did just that are now entering retirement. And I’m sure they are retiring with a good pension and a cottage “up North” as we Mittenheads — that’s a Michigander from the lower peninsula, I’m sure no one learned that out here until today — like to say. Outside of some slight envy, I’d say good for them.

But the further truth is neither the college route nor the factory route was for me. No, I had to find my own way. Much to my parents’ and many others in the world’s dismay. Let’s just say it’s been an interesting path in which I let the world control me instead of me taking whatever reins were in front of me at any given time.

That’s not to claim I can control anything and everything like all too many today. I can’t. Nor do I want to. But that’s another path to discuss in another column.

Life finally taught me you’d better wake up, because sleeping through it doesn’t work.

My advice would be to be ready, to keep your eyes wide open and, as I like to tell my girls, stay curious.

Before I knew it, most of my friends had moved away to college. Some commuted, most didn’t. A lot of them got married within a couple of years after high school. Some went into the military, moved to other towns for work or just lost contact. I guess my point here is simple: All the folks you’re used to seeing every day? They’re pretty much gone. There’s the world’s first haymaker on your chin. My advice? Embrace new roles with new friends and acquaintances and hold on tight to the old friends you keep with all your heart.

It won’t get any easier. Just like in high school, college or your job will have you working with a bunch of folks you don’t like or wish to associate with. Get used to it, you got 50 or more years of this coming.

My advice for college? Go to learn higher levels for things useful in natural law or society you can apply to a job to benefit you, your family and society. Everything else is simply crap to mold you into something the folks in control can use you for to get what they want.
As for work, learn to love the parts of the job while enjoying others who have the same work ethic as you do. Avoid those with a worthless work ethic. You can always find them with the college grads doing the bidding of self-appointed, community and political leaders later on.

Whether you’re one of the fortunate ones who gets to follow a single path or like me, who took all too many roads less traveled, life’s coming at you.

Here’s the CliffsNotes version: Follow your passion, cause no harm, stay out of other people’s lives unless it’s literally life or death and at all costs avoid the government. And absolutely embrace every second of it because it’s all beautiful. Live fully and love completely wherever life takes you.

In other words: “Be excellent to each other.”

Craig Hall is owner and publisher of the Business Times. Reach him at 424-5133 or