|Graduation speech - 2015 variety|
Will he ever be invited to speak?
Forty years ago I proudly became part of the 100th graduating class from Noblesville High School. Donned a cap and gown. Sweltered in a hot gymnasium. Gave a speech. Yes, gave a speech. Some 350 or so students and all those adults connected one way or another listened to yours truly wax poetic about John F. Kennedy, hopes, dreams and yadda, yadda, yadda. My point? If this were a classified ad I can put in that I have experience.
So why is it I sit by the phone, year in and year out, waiting for schools to call and ask me to speak at their graduation? Does the phone ring? Does a bear play Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in the woods?
Once again, then, I am left to share wisdom accumulated over a lifetime of worn-out Weejuns that have traipsed from one coast to the left and back again.
Said speech is below - administrators and boards of education, my number's in the book.
Students, faculty, parents, friends and honored guests, let me begin by saying that reading this will save you from sweating to death in a hot auditorium with a whole lot of people who just want to get out of there. So give me four minutes and I'll let you avoid dressing up and caking on the anti-deodorant.
Graduates, you have more tools at your disposal than any generation that's come before in the history of mankind. You have smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops and Carrot Top. Sorry. You have more computing power in your back pocket than the entire space agency had in 1969 when they put a man on the moon.
That was also the decade that the folks who played the role of your generation transformed the world. They forced America to change the way it treated people of color. They stopped a senseless war in southeast Asia. They made women's rights a reality, not a topic of conversation.
What amazing tools did they have at their disposal? Smartphones? Computers on their desks, cars and apartments? Text messages? Internet? Nope, none of that.
They did it by burning draft cards and bras. They did it with megaphones and posters. They did it by being involved. And here you are with the ability to communicate beyond that generations' wildest dreams.
They changed a world. What are you going to do?
No, seriously. What are you going to do?
You're going to hear a lot today about new beginnings, a new chapter in your life. Hallmark is making a killing off such thoughts. Thing is, they're right, sort of. Today is the beginning, not of life. That started around 18 years ago for most of you. No, my young friends, today is the beginning of the beginning of where we transfer ownership of that life from mom and dad and grandma and grandpa and teachers and coaches to . . . ta-da, you!
Whether that transfer is completed today or a few years from now doesn't matter. Today's the official day it begins. And where it ends up - and this is the cool part - only depends on one person . . . ta-da, yup, you again.
You are going to be the lock-stock-and-barrel owner of it all. On the crappy side, there's no detailed owner's manual like you get with a new car that says if the button for the side mirror doesn't work then call some friendly service department in Singapore that doesn't have people who speak English very well and . . . sorry, I digress. You get to figure it out. You, yourself, that person staring back at you in the mirror. It's all you, baby.
That's not good news or bad news. It is what it is - just like life.
Remember all those lessons mom and dad, teachers, coaches, pastors, grandparents have been trying to teach because someday they aren't going to be around you all the time.
Today is 'someday.'
For better or worse, those decisions that you face now are pretty much all yours.
It's a new beginning, a new chapter. It makes Hallmark happy.
So again, what are you going to do?
Here's some advice. You want to be a success in this life? Be positive. Yeah, that's it. Be positive. The world doesn't need another whiny-ass, disgruntled Negative Nancy or Nate who blames everyone and everything for their problems. Look around. Those people are everywhere.
When someone asks you how you're doing, say wonderful.
When someone asks what's wrong, say absolutely nothing.
When someone grumbles about the old battleaxe (sorry, it's a term us senior citizens know), tell them how lucky you are to have the partner you've got.
You don't have to stick your rose-colored glasses up someone's south side. But you can and should be the one who isn't a downer. Be the one who finds the positives.
I've said this in several previous speeches, but it seems more important each year. People will screw with you. Whether you choose to be a victim, whether you choose to fight back, whether you choose to ignore it or whether you rise above, it will have an impact. Just advice from an old guy, but don't choose to be a victim, don't allow it. At the same time, don't arm phasers and get ready to unload when someone crosses your path. Let the little stuff go. Don't let someone else, especially people you don't know (like the idiot talking loudly into their cell phone while at the booth next to you in the restaurant or the person with 17 items in their cart in the 10-items-and-less checkout line) have one iota of control in your life. Understand that the moron driving the moped who caused you to slam on your brakes doesn't get hurt by your blood pressure going up drastically. You do. Maybe the driver who cut you off in traffic deserves your ire. Or maybe they're a parent who just found out their child has cancer and they're not thinking clearly?
OK, we're about done here. You've got the magic box in your back pocket. You have technology. You live in the greatest information age in the history of mankind. My grandparents belonged to what's been called the greatest generation. My parents followed that up with respect. My generation was the one from the '60s. You've got the chance to make your own statement here. What will it be?
That's the point. It's up to you.
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