A friend of mine told me that I should try to speak at graduation. “That sounds like a great idea,” I thought. And then I missed the deadline for applying by about a week and a half, which, ironically, was pretty representative of my entire college experience.
So, anyway, here’s something like what I would have said, if I were to speak at graduation.
I was going to start this speech with some sort of quote about time. You know, one of those ominous, pomp-and-circumstance-y sayings that valedictorians have embroidered into their pillows. “Time is money, and what you make of it, and we should all end apartheid,” or something like that.
But I can’t. Time is irrelevant. All I know about time is that I can spend one hour writing a paper on educational philosophies, and it will feel like watching an extended version of “Ben-Hur.” Then, I’ll spend an hour playing “I’m Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee” with my 3-month-old son, and time zips around, like . . . well, yeah.
And the times, they are a-changing. When I first started college, way back in 2004 (don’t ask — let’s just say TV got really good around 2007, and I got distracted for a while), Weber State had a massive parking problem and a terrible football team, and half of the campus was under major construction, and the writers at The Signpost were all hacks. These days, they’ve finished some of the construction.
The world keeps getting wider, and it narrows, too. My wife’s parents are moving to Saudi Arabia this summer to help build hospitals. We checked what the weather looked like, and it said “110 degrees, with impending dust.” Sounds a lot worse than the lake effect. I’ll never complain about inversion again.
And I have a brother kicking around in Armenia for two years, which, according to several experts, is a real place. When he was getting ready to move there, it took us forever to figure out where “there” was. Smushed in somewhere between Iran, Turkey and a couple of -stans, Armenia is known for being the oldest Christian nation in the world. Its primary export is Armenians, who all move to Glendale, Calif., and start thrilling reality TV shows (ala the Kardashians).
Speaking of the world getting wider — let’s get back to me here — I’m about to graduate from school, exiting a phase in my life I started several years ago. Graduation is scary. I can’t pretend to be smart just by wearing glasses. The world sees through this, which is why John Lennon isn’t famous anymore (too soon?). The world peers past my glasses, through my squinty little eyes and into my soul, and I’m worried all they’ll see is a gigantic lack of profitable skills, a lot of ideas for lame novels and about nine years of crummy college food (I’d imagine some of those frozen burritos are still digesting).
But graduate I will, and that chapter of time will be over. Not only that, but I’ve already managed to stumble into one of those job things I keep hearing about. Apparently, you go somewhere, and you do things, and then they give you money for it afterwards. Crazy, right? Who knew? I should have figured out this whole college thing a little sooner.
Working is good, I guess. That’s what college prepares us for. Bringing home the bacon, and all that. I guess that’s fine, but I’d rather be bringing home a baby bumblebee.
And, since I am an English major, I wanted to part with the words of William Shakespeare, from his play “The Tempest.” As you all know, in Act VI, Scene I, Prospero says to King Henry . . . eh . . . or, you know . . . Tybalt . . . anyway, somebody in tights says this to someone else, and it’s profound:
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it (“it” meaning “this world”) inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind:
But (and I added the “but” — I think Bill would be fine with it) we are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
Wildcats, give heed to the words of the Bard, for the union building, and the football stadium, and that awful grade you got in Math 1010, and every obnoxious parking ticket ever shall dissolve and, like some insubstantial pageant, fade, and leave not a spiral notebook behind.
But WE, fellow graduates, are such stuff as dreams are made on. And our little, undergraduate lives will finally be rounded with some regular sleep.