Tim Timmons | Crawfordsville, IN

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December 11, 2017

Graduation speech, part two?

I've been writing columns of one sort or another for more than 40 years now. The first one was in 1973 and got me yelled at by a coach I'd taken to task. You'd think over all these decades that I'd either have gotten better or at least learned to stop writing things that landed me in hot water.
Wrong on both counts.
However, there are a few things I write every once in a blue moon that the eight or nine of you who regularly read this drivel seem to enjoy. Not sure why that is, but I'm appreciative. One of those things is the silly semblance of a graduation speech, which this year, got a fair amount more feedback than normal. Since all the feedback was of the nice variety, it inspired me to write an addendum. (Hey, if you don't like it, blame yourselves - you encouraged me.)
Let your mind wander and imagine this scenario if you will. The speech was given - to a rousing reply, of course - and the dean or some equally important honcho is walking back to the podium as I'm stepping away.
Suddenly and in the immortal words of Lee Corso, I step back to the microphone . . . "Not so fast my friends."
How many of you are familiar with Beethoven's Ode to Joy? No, music majors don't count. Come on, you know it, whether you know it or not. It's actually The Symphony No. 9 in D minor. It was the last completed symphony the maestro wrote. You've all heard it.
I'm not going to insult anyone by pretending to have some intellectual insight on the piece. But besides coming from one of the greatest composers in the history of man, it has also surfaced in places that have nothing in common - from protestors in Tiananmen Square to wrestler Triple H, Everybody Loves Raymond, the Beatles, Bruce Willis' Die Hard movie and Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange.
Interesting, sure, but what does it have to do with you?
Everything.
Those notes that Ludwig worked with are the same ones you have today. Understand that there are only a dozen musical notes on a scale. (No you music majors, I'm not counting the majors and minors and half notes and tones and all that.) The point being that Ode to Joy went from an idea, a thought, a spark inside the gray matter of a guy in the 1700s to the point where it's used as inspiration for unarmed students standing up to tanks in China, all the way to the silver screen in Hollywood. Yippee-Ki-Yay . . .
What do you have in your head? What spark is flickering, just waiting to come out? Understand that for ol' Ludwig it had very few places to go. I imagine he used some sort of quill or pencil to jot it on paper. No instant access to thousands or even millions of Twitter followers for him. Nope. He thought about it, worked on it, refined it and shared it.
You can do the exact same thing - and yet, you can get the word out so much faster, more efficiently. The possibilities for you are literally endless.
Will you write a masterpiece? Maybe. Why not? But whether you do or don't, you have the same basic building blocks on which to work that generations before you have had. Use them. Achieve with them.
While you're doing it, remember to be harder on yourself, expect more of yourself than anyone else does. You'll benefit from that. And don't forget to cut yourself a little slack when you truly deserve it.
OK, this time I really am done. Graduation is a great time of life. It marks an achievement. Here's hoping for all of you that it also marks the beginning of many more.
I'm done. Really.






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