You’ve been asked to speak at your high school alma mater — about the path of life. (Whoa.) Draft the speech.
Good afternoon ladies, gentlemen, proud parents and siblings:
We are gathered here to listen to me drone on with pearls of wisdom that you will remember about as long as the vibrations last in your ear. But that is okay because what I have to say will make some of you mad and maybe even want to take a swing at me. So if you forget shortly after, I have no fear in walking to my car.
Others will laugh thinking I’m only kidding, but I am not. I am dead serious.
While the last group of you, have earphones plugged in and it really doesn’t make a damn anyway. You’ll be thinking about heading to the beach, impregnating your girlfriend accidentally or what’s for dinner tonight.
The truth is, none of this matters. You were not anything special yesterday and just because you are wearing a cap and gown, you will not be anything earth shattering today and most likely tomorrow. The truth is you have been treading water until now, kept afloat by well meaning parents.
What you think you know today is rubbish. Most of you matriculating today are telling stories about this was the best this or the most awesome that. And finally, my favorite “this is so gross, it is the most gross thing I’ve ever (seen, done, smelled, etc…..)
Just wait until you’ve held someone’s hand while they were dying to say something is the most awesome. Or had to clean up the shit someone on purposely left on the floor of the bathroom for you to clean up before you use extreme language to define how gross something is to you.
You have not lived enough to use the words, “the most” or any other word that expresses an extreme measurement. Stop it.
I once had a college room mate who said, “High school was the greatest time in my life.” Really? the greatest? I just wanted to say “then just kill yourself now if the best has already happened cause the rest will be terribly disappointing.”
What you learned in school to prepare you for careers or college is a joke. Most of you have no idea how to study, manage time, much less cook yourselves dinner. You will still need parental support for the next ump-teen years from now. So what has changed since you were an infant?
So, here we are. Here today starts your life. What do you plan to do with it? Will you make a difference? I guess the answer to that lies in to what magnitude. Will you cure cancer? Probably not. Will you make a difference to someone who needs help, love or assistance just getting to the grocery store? Will you create an empire or work your way through the corporate jungle?That is up to you and the answer can only be, maybe.
The answer to everything is in you. You will be the only one who can make yourself happy. Don’t try to measure it up to your friends on Facebook. You are the only one who can change your corner of the world because the probably of you changing the entire world is highly unlikely.
So find joy in the small things like clean laundry or being the first one to dive into a new jar of peanut butter.
Exercise. Don’t let your beautiful young bodies rot. Every few years, you’ll notice a change in how things fit, how far you can walk and how many pills you will need later on in life to get by. Snicker, chuckle, whatever, your parents have probably experienced the same thing I am telling you now. Also, exercise improves moods and staves off depression of which you’ll have an infinitely better chance experiencing than winning the lottery or curing cancer.
And finally, examine and re-examine your life. Why are you doing the things you are doing? Let’s get deep here for a moment. Are you voting because you are voting the way you were brought up? Did you really think about it before you cast your vote? Is your religion based on how you were brought up? Does it really pertain to your life? Do you really believe the exact same things you believed to be true yesterday, last week, a year ago, when you were 5.
Socrates: “The unexamined life is not worth living”
Don’t continue doing things in the same manner because that is the way your family has always done things. Maybe the circumstances have changed, maybe the polar ice caps have melted, maybe California fell off into the ocean, maybe dogs and cats have learned to talk to us and all they wanted, after all this time, was a little recognition…shouldn’t that warrant you to change as well? It’s time to be your own person and it’s okay to be scared to change- it’s life.
Go live it.
In Response: Alma Mater