The end has come. Finally the end has come. Thirteen years of work. Thirteen years of blood, sweat, and tears. A lot of blood, sweat and tears. The good times came, as did all of the bad times.

We have lived to see each other grow and yet we were blind to it, never noticing every detail that has made our lives beautiful. The beauty was there. The passion was there, but we never took the time to look, to see.

We ignored those who were different from ourselves, every clique thinking the other to be weird or stupid. We put down those we like, not because they deserved it, but because we were too stubborn to see the beauty in them. Instead we saw our own insecurities and tried to crush those that were weaker to make ourselves feel better.

There is no more time to lie to ourselves about what we think is right. There is no more time to justify our actions, or our choices. There is no more time. Our lives as we know them are over.

Welcome to the real world, and I'm not talking about MTV. I'm talking about the cruelty we create every time we open our mouths without love in our hearts. Love. Please love someone. You will never be able to truly live until you truly love.

Are we too young to love? Absolutely not. We have just been conditioned to not want to love, to not want to listen to our own hearts, or follow that gut feeling. We have allowed these days to pass, without any idea of who we really are or what we really feel. Our feelings have gone unspoken. We have lied.

Look into yourself and ask, "Have I lied?" We stand on the doorstep of destiny and Destiny has said," I will not make your choices for you any longer, I will not be your guide, you are yours and so the choices are yours. You must live with the consequences of your actions. The blame can only lie on you."

There is no more blame to be shared. We are individuals. We have chosen our paths and no matter where they lead, they are our own paths. Some paths may cross again. Some of us may never see each other again. The truth is all we can hold on to.

Some I will miss, others I will not, but this phase in our lives is deeply rooted with each other. No matter how hard we try to deny each other, we are all connected. Do not deny each other any more. We are entering an even more hostile world than high school. We need each other. We must stand with each other. We must always look out for each other.

Men, chivalry is not dead, unless you kill it. Treat all women with respect. Look closely; every woman is beautiful. Look at her eyes, look at her hands, and look at her lips. Look at her, and really begin to see her. Every woman is beautiful.

Women, don't forget about us normal guys. The geeks, the nerds, the brains, the everyday average guy. That is where you will find the true romantic. Not all of us can be athletic or popular or rich, but we are still here, and are more than willing to treat you like queens.

And so life for us is truly beginning. Our careers will start. We will meet the love of our lives and forget those we loved before. We will have few true friends but those we keep will be more than blood, they will be a part of us, a part of our souls. They will live on in us forever.

And as the years pass, so will many of this class. And the tears will form more often then not. Our mortality, which we never feared will begin to make us worry, about what will they do if I die? Will they go on, will they mourn?

We will begin to second guess ourselves. But our friends will be there to support us and when they are not, we will know when the time has come when we will meet our Maker, and we will have to account for our lives.

And then there will be no lies; every second recorded. Will you regret what you did? Don't lie, you will.

My life is filled with many regrets, but all we can do is stand firm and do what is right. We cannot pass judgment on anyone but ourselves. That is not our job.

Our job is to live respectable, good lives, raising our children to be better than we are. Our job is to love for love is the root of all that is good. Without it, we are already dead.

Don't be afraid to cry, it is not a sign of weakness, rather it is a sign of strength; strength from your own self-awareness; the knowledge that tears will heal without leaving as many scars.

Dream. Change your mind if you need to. Don't be miserable. Don't be afraid to walk away. Don't put yourself down; you are your own worse critic. Don't trust everyone, but know who can trust and when you do, trust him or her with your life.

Let the ones you love know. Don't be ashamed to hug your dad or your mom." I love you" comes too few and far between. Don't be ashamed to say it if you really mean it. They will be appreciated.

Be a kid again. Swing, run around, go splashing in the mud, forget about the world for a few minutes. Don't worry what people will think, even if it's for just a moment for that moment will live with you for the rest of your life.

Do not hesitate. If someone is good and there in front of you, take hold and never let go. You never know if they will ever be back in your life again, or if you will ever have the chance to love them and have the love returned if you let them go.

Fear nothing. The worst that can happen is you will die. And you will die, so the worst will happen inevitably, so why be afraid of anything?

You are never alone, there is always someone thinking of you. And most importantly, again, I say love.

Love endlessly. Put no bounds on your love. Love like there is no tomorrow. Love like you can't be hurt. And when you are, love some more. Love will heal you; love will save you. Love.

And I leave everyone with these final words. Live your lives full of love; live for the moment. Live for the moments, each detail, and each beautiful second of time.

Find your moment. Find the beauty and then live for it. Live for those days when you can just dance in the rain. Live for those beautiful moments.

Copyright © 2000 Chris Sheppard