So We Commence
Nobody asked us to give a commencement address this year so
we figured we'd just do one here. Wherever you are has got
to be more comfortable than those crappy folding chairs, so
Commencement means beginning. Some of you graduates may be
seeing it as an end to the part of your education society
deems compulsory. That's wrong. Your education goes on no
matter what, because life is compulsory and so is learning.
Sure, your choices ahead are about what you're going to do,
but they're really about learning to become the best human
being you can be. You'll probably change some in the coming
years, but you'll always be the exact same person you already
are now. Anybody who says that's not so just doesn't remember
themselves at your age. And hopefully at 17 or 18 you're smart
enough to accept that you could still use a little direction
once in a while. So here's ours, which you're free and encouraged
to recycle any way you see fit.
The Phoenicia Times' Advice to Graduates:
1. If you're going to do something, really do it. If you can't
commit to trying, do something else.
2. If it's something you've done before, next time do it better
by really concentrating on it. Either get something out of
it, or don't bother. If you're thinking about something you
haven't done before, try it. It may or may not be what you
think, but if you don't try you'll never know.
3. If you're afraid, especially of failing, get over it. Fear
and creativity can't coexist, and one or the other is going
to dominate the choices you make in life. So pick the one
you can live with, without regret. Most people make the wrong
choice here. Don't.
4. If you don't know something, ask. If asked, you have to
tell the truth. You can withhold a little bit so as not to
cause suffering, but that's it. If you need help, ask for
help. That's why we have each other.
5. Don't waste time thinking about stupid stuff. You are what
you think. That's why the quality of your dialogue with yourself
matters, and that's why you have a brain full of critical
6. Those critical faculties are not you. Only you know who
you are, and you don't know yet. Get used to it, because it
may be a while before you resolve this.
7. Look on everyone with compassion, it's the only way to
accept ourselves. And stop judging people and projecting motivations
onto them; none of us are qualified for that and most of us
are trying very hard to do the best we can.
8. Try to stay open to experience and clear of your own preconceptions.
If it's too easy, leave it. If it's too hard, it's either
yours to solve or yours to drop. What feels right is probably
right, what feels wrong is definitely wrong.
9. All you really have is the attitude you bring to each day.
Everything else is just vanity and projection. Lose those
and you'll find yourself. Hang on to them and all you'll find
is what others see when they look at you.
10. Life's a trip, and your traveling companions can only
bring as much or as little self-awareness as they've got.
If they're packing lots of baggage, you're going to end up
carrying it. So weigh that baggage carefully because things
tend to get heavy.
11. You are not who you think you are. You are what you think
about and what you feel. And you can trust your intuition
so long as you're sure it's not being colored by your own
fears or projections or those of others. That intuition, that
self-awareness, is your connection to the Spirit that brought
you here. Your work, your job, is to find a way to accomplish
whatever it tells you needs to be accomplished.
12. Everything matters, every second counts even if you don't
use them all perfectly. No one does, so lighten up. It only
gets better, I promise. But you're going to have to love one
another and trust yourselves better than those of us who've
been your teachers.
On behalf of your parents generation, I want to apologize
for the state of the planet you are inheriting from us. We
have screwed up nearly beyond what's imaginable, and having
brought you into this world, we should have done better. But
now we're counting on you for that. We're counting on your
being smarter and better attuned at a younger age than we
were, and we've given you the best values we can. And whatever
sacrifices it's taken we'd do it again in a heartbeat because
we love you and we believe in you and we need you as much
as you've needed us.