It's graduation time, and though I don't have any of my own to attend...many of my family and friends do. The one thing I love about graduations are the speeches. They're usually pretty hit or miss, but every so often somebody will say something that is so spot-on, so perfect for the moment that it's quite moving. For this Monday's thoughts I've compiled the thoughts that others have given on Graduation Day:
…You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default.
Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above rubies.
…So today, I can wish you nothing better than similar friendships. And tomorrow, I hope that even if you remember not a single word of mine, you remember those of Seneca, another of those old Romans I met when I fled down the Classics corridor, in retreat from career ladders, in search of ancient wisdom:
As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.
I wish you all very good lives.
-J.K Rowling (at Harvard 2008)
"…Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."
…Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish
-Steve Jobs (Stanford, 2005)
"…It doesn't matter that your dream came true if you spent your whole life sleeping..."
"…Think of the world as a big glass of water with some salt in it. You have a choice. You can try to pick out all the salt or you can keep pouring in more water so eventually it gets less bitter. As you begin your new journey, you can try to remove everything that you find distasteful in the world, or you can just pour in more love. It's the only thing that the more you give away, the more you have."
Jerry Zucker (U. of Wisconsin, 2003)
"There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says 'Morning, boys. How's the water?' And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes "What the hell is water?"
-David Foster Wallace ( Kenyon College, 2005)
"Here is my resume: I am a good mother to three children. I have tried never to let my profession stand in the way of being a good parent. I no longer consider myself the center of the universe. I show up. I listen, I try to laugh. I am a good friend to my husband. I have tried to make marriage vows mean what they say. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh. I am a good friend to my friends, and they to me. Without them, there would be nothing to say to you today, because I would be a cardboard cutout. But I call them on the phone, and I meet them for lunch. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh."
-Anna Quindlen (Pulitzer Prized winning author, Villanova, 2005