It’s a rite of spring. And no, I’m not talking about the ballet by Igor Stravinsky, but rather the tedious chore of picking out clothes for the thrift store. For me specifically, the ones that have suddenly become too small for some reason that I don’t want to admit (hang on, let me measure that waistline again).

Recycling clothing is something I don’t do too often, not because I’m lazy but because I wear everything out way past the “gently worn” phase. That’s basically true, except for those 30-inch-waist pants that have to go bye-bye. They’re still new-ish.

The old saying of Ben Franklin goes, “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes,” but for me, it’s not that, but rather spring cleaning and taxes.

Growing up listening to the radio in the 1950s and 1960s, the mere thought of spring cleaning brings to mind those immortal lines from The Coasters:

Take out the papers and the trash

Or you don’t get no spending cash

If you don’t scrub that kitchen floor

You ain’t gonna rock ‘n roll no more

YAKETY-YAK, don’t talk back.

But hey, at this point in life, don’t expect me to talk back or make any smart-alecky remarks until I’ve had my second cup of coffee. Caffeinated.

It’s my go-to activity first thing in the morning, and judging from the latest research, I don’t think I’m alone here. In fact, I was reading that the average New Mexican admits they can go just 10 days without a cuppa.

I was well into my 20s before coffee became my wake-me-up beverage, and when I think about it, it’s a wonder I managed to get up in time to trundle into first period back in high school without it.

But I somehow made it through, and guess what?

It’s time for seniors in Socorro, Magdalena, Alamo, Quemado, and parts unknown to make it through as well. They’ll clean out their lockers for the last time and be released from the confines of what some consider a violation of the Eighth Amendment – the one about cruel and unusual punishment. You know, high school.

Who among us doesn’t remember their high school graduation? Whether it was five or 50 years ago, it’s a rite of passage, like getting a driver’s license, getting married, or getting drafted. Oops, wrong generation.

Anyway, it seems like every year around this time, I end up trying to come up with something inspirational or profound for high school graduates, but to be honest, I can’t remember a single word of the speechifying at my own high school commencement – much less at the baccalaureate service at the Methodist Church. In all likelihood, you might say my mind was miles away, going through withdrawal.

There’s all kinds of graduation advice, platitudes, homilies, you name it, on the internet. One guy says to start each day by making your bed, “Then you will have accomplished at least one thing that day.” I particularly like this from Mark Twain: “20 years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you do.”

President Thomas Jefferson put it another way. “If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.”

I don’t think he was referring to making your bed each morning, though.

With Mother’s Day just past, I feel I got the best advice at home from her, something I’ve followed throughout life. She would tell me to “hitch your wagon to a star” and to “take the path less traveled.” In other words, do what you love the best you can, and success will follow.

In my high school years, she put up with my weird friends and the loud Beatles and Rolling Stones records, but I don’t think she ever doubted that I’d be okay in the end, that is, if I kept making As and “strong” Bs, as she put it.

One thing’s for sure, not graduating was not an option.

I was reading that the graduation rate in New Mexico has been holding steady at 78 percent. Granted, that’s not awfully good, but it’s still better than Arizona’s. And I’m wondering where all those drop-outs end up later in life. Who knows, hopefully, many will become self-educated throughout life.

It comes down to that whatever one’s goal in life is, one must pursue it, even if you’re the one who has to wipe down the sneeze guard on the salad bar. You never know. One day you may own that sneeze guard and the whole dang place.

As for high school, in the 50 (gulp) years since my graduation, I’ve found at least one thing to be true, as singer Langhorne Slim muses:

“Life is confusing, and people are insane…”

Present company excepted.