By John Schenck It means something different now. Once it meant qualifying for whatever came next. Amassing passes meant commencement, a celebration. Now when we say a friend has passed we say it with sorrow. We would rather see him not pass. Not fail – just not pass. Some pass after long and labored struggle. Other times, passing is sudden, shocking. Those left back feel hurt, cheated by the obvious unfairness. But as grading never ends we wonder what conclusions we should draw. Work hard, follow rules, take statins; lessen stress, practice Yoga; or should we now be urgently unlearning everything we learned to get to where we are? And we wonder where that is, exactly. Commencement seems a distant dream, although we’re seniors. To pass with honors, or at least some honor, we must honor others: those who’ve traveled with us in our lives and shared themselves along the way. How often we have tested them with our bouts of doubt, episodes of ego, and our follies – some of us boast graduate degrees in folly. For heaven’s sake let’s honor them at last. They may pass before we do. Imagine what we’d say if we could call them back. Think of saying it now. They shouldn’t have to pass before we tell them they did well. They will not hear our tributes at their own commencements.