Thank you for inviting me here today. I am honored.
Let me begin by saying that it is hotter then Hell. I am ‘swimming’ under this cap and gown. There is no amount of deodorant that will take care of what I believe is going on under there. Like life, sometimes things get uncomfortable and you need to cast off the gown that has been provided by others- and remember everyone smells sometimes, so give yourselves, and others, a break every now and again. Unless it’s chronic- then you’ll need to change things up. Maybe find a new deodorant- or situation.
When I was asked to impart my wisdom today, your University President, asked if I could come-up with a ten minute speech.
I think ten minutes is about ten minutes too short, but I’m receiving an ‘honorary’ degree in Letters, in exchange, so I showed-up. This proves two things: 1) people like to be honored for stuff they don’t deserve, and 2) most people don’t spend enough time on things that are worthwhile.
When I graduated many years ago, the only thing I was interested in was finding a job so that I could get an apartment, and a car, and a ‘life’ of my own. But, Carter was Prez and gasoline was being rationed, and the economy stunk, and people were going to be replaced by this new thing called ‘computers’, and we were all being tracked by aliens, and the USSR (look it up) was likely going to nuke us, and Cancer would be cured, and no one needed Viagra, and going braless seemed like a good idea.
Things change. Your ‘things’ will change too.
Today, you are all starting out of the ‘gate’ together. You all believe anything is possible- and it is, but it won’t stay that way forever. Every decision you make out of fear, every influence that isn’t motivated by love, every year you hesitate to begin your journey, is time that you will never get back. All of you will be occasionally disappointed but you’ll need to get back on the horse.
Disappointment is a gift. Use it to re-tool. Re-think. Reinvent- get a new saddle.
You have all worked hard to be here today. None of you have done it alone. No one does. That island we’ve all heard about- with that guy who’s on it all by himself and having the time of his life? That guy? He’s miserable. No cell service to that island, but he’s not on anyone’s Contact list anyways.
There’s really only a few suggestions I can give you with any kind of certainty:
- Mind your own business. Life’s complicated enough so ease up on the finding someone/thing to bitch about so that you feel better about your own frustrations. It’s a slippery slope. You’ll be scaling mountains, without reaching your summit, forever.
- You can’t ‘fix’ people. You can only ‘fix’ situations. Sometimes that means changing jobs. Sometimes that means acceptance.
- Know the difference between ‘daring’ and ‘stupid’. One is calculated and the other is reckless. Sorta the difference between Atticus Finch and Johnny Knoxville.
- Be good to yourself, even love yourself, but not so much that you think you are the Center Of The Universe. We are all but passing through and someone’s got to know how to fix a toilet.
- Don’t just take up space and suck air. Even if you don’t change the world, don’t leave it a worse place.
- Do fall in love, but not without first being friends, however, don’t be your child’s friend without being a parent first. There are appropriate steps to meaningful relationships. Not everyone is as blessed as the Kardashians, whom appear to be able to do so much in reverse.
- Don’t assume you ‘deserve’ anything. Life’s not fair. There will always be an asshole driving the car of your dreams and a Veteran trying to find a meal. Enjoy what you do have. Be grateful for all the small reasons.
- Tip well. The difference between being gracious and being a jerk is so often a percentage– and I’m not just talking money.
And finally, always, have an emergency contact, a few bucks in your pocket, a phone charger available, drink champagne from a tall flute, and have a personal fan up your pants…
God, it’s hot out here.