Commencement Speech

06Jun13

We are right in the middle of the graduation season, and I am again available for a small stipend to deliver the keynote address at any commencement ceremonies. Or you can save yourselves the money, save me some time, and spare your graduates a few minutes of agony and just read it here.

Graduates, distinguished members of the faculty, valedictorian, salutatorian, and Sagittarians. I trust that covers everyone.

graduates at spring commencementI did not come here today to bore you. That’s the superintendent’s job. Nonetheless, I am here to tell you that you truly can live your dreams. In fact, I note that several in the front row have already begun. Wake up! There will be ample time to sleep during the valedictory.
This day brings back memories of sitting on folding chairs with my classmates on a sweltering June day many years ago, tuning out my commencement speaker. So today, it is my distinct honor to go unnoticed by the class of 2013.

You could say that I excelled at academics while I was a student. It would be untrue, but you could say it.

Graduates, I encourage you to be critical thinkers and to question even what you have learned in school. My generation believed that money was the root of all evil. We have since learned that that was wrong. The root of all evil is actually social media. Money, it turns out, was cool all along. If we had only known, today we’d all be as rich as Mark Zuckerberg.

Nowadays, everything is smart phones. One day, we won’t need teachers. We won’t need administrators. We won’t need classrooms. We won’t even need graduation. One day, a smartphone will give the commencement speech to a bunch of iPads. Where will you be then? Probably the same place you’ll be after you leave here today — at some boring party with a bunch of relatives.

But I am not here today to tell you what to think or how to live your lives. That’s the IRS’s job. But a commencement speech without a few words of advice would be boring. Come to think of it, a commencement speech with a few words of advice would be boring.

Which brings me to my first words of advice: lower your expectations.

Graduates, never be too busy to laugh. Better yet, never be too busy.

Don’t talk too fast. Even better, don’t talk at all.

Know when to walk away from a conversation, and do it as soon as possible.

If you make a mistake, avoid blaming others. Better yet, avoid others.

But remember, the people you mistreat on your way up the ladder are the same people you’re going to see on the way down. So my advice to you today: use the elevator. It’s faster and you’ll meet a better class Dolphinsof people than you will climbing ladders.

As you go through life, remember that the secret of happiness is having a purpose. And if you can’t have a purpose, a dolphin will do. Most people don’t know the difference anyway.

Graduates, I hope that my speech here today has, if nothing else, taught you how to handle disappointment.

Finally, it has been said that if you think education is expensive, try ignorance. And I say to all of you here today, if you think ignorance is expensive, wait until you see my bill for this speech.

[This column originally appeared in the Wakefield Daily Item.]

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