Here is some advice from the old guy in the mirror

Published 12:41 am Sunday, June 4, 2017

If you’ve ever looked in the mirror and thought, “What happened?” I can relate.

Last week I took a quick glance and had a momentary realization —I’m getting old.

Today, in fact, I’ll mark 46 years on this planet. Thankfully, I’ve been able to spend all but approximately four years of that living and working in my home state.

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Nineteen of those years have been in Natchez.

Statistically, depending upon which set of numbers one trusts, I’m either at the halfway point in my life or darned close. One online calculator suggested I’d probably live to be 93, which sounds like a long way off until I realize it seems like just yesterday I was graduating from high school with a head of hair and the word “teen” at the end of my age.

I’ve read with great interest over the past several weeks of the many fine area students who are graduating from high school and moving onto another rung of life’s ladder.

Logically, my brain tells me it’s been nearly 30 years since I walked across the football field at my high school to receive my diploma, but it certainly doesn’t seem that long in my soul.

My advice for graduates includes three, simple things.

First, don’t look into mirrors too often. They simply make one focus too much on the here and now and not on what could be.

Second, spend more time hanging out with children and people older than yourself. You’ll learn much about life by observing and befriending each group.

Finally, some of the best advice to graduates comes from a man who died years before I was born. Our only real similarities are that we’re both Southern and both Christians.

The man said the following (which I’ve excerpted in parts for space):

“This is the most important and crucial period of your lives for what you do now and what you decide now at this age may well determine, which way your life shall go.

And the question is, whether you have a proper, a solid and a sound blueprint.

And I want to suggest some of the things that should be in your life’s blueprint.

No. 1 in your life’s blueprint should be a deep belief in your own dignity, your own worth and your own somebodiness. Don’t allow anybody to make you feel that you are nobody. Always feel that you count. Always feel that you have worth and always feel that your life has ultimate significance.

Secondly, in your life’s blueprint you must have as a basic principle the determination to achieve excellence in your various fields of endeavor.

You’re going to be deciding as the days and the years unfold what you will do in life, what your life’s work will be. Once you discover what it will be, set out to do it and to do it well.

Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be the sun, but a star, for it isn’t by size that you win or you fail, be the best of whatever you are.

Finally in your life’s blueprint, must be a commitment to the eternal principles of beauty, love and justice. Well life for none of us has been a crystal stair, but we must keep moving. We must keep going.

If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk.

If you can’t walk, crawl, but by all means, keep moving.

Those powerful words were delivered by the Rev. Martin Luther King decades ago, but they still ring so true today.

They should have meaning whether delivered to a fresh high school graduate standing on the threshold of his or her future or a 46-year-old bald guy looking in the mirror and wondering where the years have gone.

Keep moving, keep one’s own chin high, and keep working to be the very best possible. That’s a worthy set of goals for all of us.
Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or