(I have not been invited to speak at anyone’s high school graduation in years, and am not unhappy about that in the least. Sitting through the lengthy program–sometimes outside in the sun!–and eventually rising to try to convey some heavy thoughts to a crowd interested in a thousand things other than my message, no thank you. So, I’ll just post a commencement address here. Thank you very much. Oh, and congratulations.)
“Thank you, Superintendent! Congratulations, graduates. And may I say, you look beautiful today. Even the fellow on the front row who appears not to be wearing pants under his robe.
Today is a great day in your life. But don’t let it be the high point. In fact, if you do life well, you will forget almost everything that happens today, as a hundred other great events in your life will crowd out these memories. So, savor the moment. It’s fleeting.
Here is what I’d like to convey to you. Got your pencil and paper ready? This will be on the test!
1) Keep on growing.
You’re not ‘you’ yet; in some ways you’re still an embryo.
When looked at through the lens of your complete life, you are today graduating from the 3rd grade. You have so much to learn, so much farther to go. This is no time to quit growing.
Someone in my high school told of a classmate rowing his boat out into the middle of the lake and dumping all his textbooks overboard. His new high school diploma was all he would be needing. This is suicidal. Not to say stupid.
I hope you didn’t love high school too much. One of the worst things that can happen to any of us is to have hit our peak in high school, to have loved it so much that we never want to leave, and to spend the rest of our days trying to recapture those moments.
Far better to have been a little frustrated in your schooling that “they” weren’t teaching something you needed, that “they” were wasting much of your time, that you could do better than this. This angst, if we may call it that, has a way of jet-propelling you out of school toward the next stage.
That’s good. You’re so ready to get on to the next thing.