So, in our house, there really isn't anyone graduating...Kiddo had a little ceremony where they "move up" from Kindergarten to first grade and that was about it. And I know next year, there definitely isn't anything even remotely ceremonial.
I don't remember who gave the commencement speech when I graduated college back in 1994. But every year, about this time I love reading the transcripts of commencement speeches that famous folks - authors, politicians, business leaders, actors - give to those about to leave school to start the rest of their lives. I kind of use it as a reminder, recalling what it was like to embark on that journey, an annual check-in on how I'm doing with that life lived to the fullest kind of thing... which can get so lost in the everyday of every day.
There are some great words of wisdom and advice that folks have passed along to graduates and one of my all-time favorites is from what the author David Foster Wallace said to the graduating class of Kenyon College in 2005. It was recently made into a video you can watch here on You Tube. I just love it. All of it. But here's a little blurb:
"Learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed...You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn't. It is about simple awareness - awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us...The way you perceive and react to the world is a choice."
Good to keep in mind for all of us, not just 21- and 22-year-olds with caps and gowns, eh?
I've rounded up some others of my favorites too, to give us all a boost during these Mad Life days.
"For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been 'no' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something." - Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple, to Stanford University grads in 2005
"Each step forward in technological communication has made things more convenient. But each step has also made it easier, just a little bit easier, to avoid the emotional work of being present. To write 'LOL' rather than to actually laugh out loud; to send a crying emoji rather than actually crying; to convey information rather than humanity. It's never been easier to say nothing. The problem with accepting, or preferring, diminished substitutes, we too become diminished substitutes...This is the work of being human. It can be messy and painful and almost impossibly difficult, but it is not what we give; it is what we get in exchange for having to die. And it is beautiful." -- Jonathan Safran Foer, author, speaking to Middlebury College grads in Vermont in 2013
"But the unfortunate, yet truly exciting thing about your life, is there is no core curriculum. The entire place is an elective. The paths are infinite and the results uncertain. And it can be maddening to those that go here, especially here, because your strength has always been achievement. So if there's any real advice I can give you it's this: College is something you complete; life is something you experience." -- Jon Stewart, television host and comedian, to the grads of The College of William and Mary in 2004
Who spoke at your graduation? Do you have anyone graduating this year?