A Few Words of Wisdom to the Class of 2019
Unlike most graduation speakers, I am not going to bore you with a philosophical discourse on the meaning of life If you want to learn some philosophy, you don’t have to read Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Thomas Aquinas, Thomas Hobbes, or Immanuel Kant. Dr. Seuss has a lot of worthwhile philosophical ideas in books like Oh, The Places You’ll Go, Green Eggs and Ham, Horton Hears a Who!, and The Cat in the Hat. Charles M. Schulz wrote a insightful book called Happiness is a Warm Puppy, and Pogo from the funny papers once said that we have met the enemy and he is us. And a pint-sized sage from the cartoon world, Bart Simpson, has reminded us that we shouldn’t have a cow, man. It is amazing that for such a complicated subject, pretty much all you really need to know about philosophy is the stuff aimed for kindergarteners.
As for the meaning of life, I am not one of those nihilists who believe life is meaningless. And, sorry, Forrest Gump, life is not like a box of chocolates because it causes headaches rather than cavities. Ultimately, I find life to be like hard core pornography–I really can’t define it but I certainly know it when I encounter it. Rather than discussing what life is, I will tell you to just live it. You will discover what it is all about sooner or later.
If you an old-timer like me, you may have grooved to the rock band Three Dog Night over four decades ago. So like the Dog, I want you to celebrate, celebrate, and dance to the music! Graduation is a great accomplishment. You have endured mindless lectures, all-nighters, excruciating homework assignments, incomprehensible examinations, and occasional dirty looks to get that piece of paper called a diploma. So now is the time to get yourself a few brewskis (root beer, of course), listen to your favorite music at full blast (even Beethoven will do), and PARTY HEARTY! But please don’t party so boisterously that you will become a public nuisance. And also remember parties are like glory–they are fleeting. Now that your school days are over, your real education is about to begin in the Academy of the Real World.
A special reason to celebrate is that you just might be the first graduates in a long, long time not to be haunted by the shadow of the Great Recession–actually, the Little Depression. The unemployment rate is at the lowest since the days of Woodstock and the Miracle Mets. Of course, not every day economically is like Christmas. The Retail Apocalypse is still raging on, college students will probably be paying off their student loans until they take up shuffleboard at the retirement homes, and arts and humanities majors are schlepping coffee at Starbucks and flipping burgers at Mickey D’s and Wendy’s until they head off to law school. Still, the world is your oyster. Just try to avoid becoming oyster stew after you leave these hallowed halls of academe.
In the poem “The Waste Land”, T.S. Eliot wrote, “Hurry up please it’s time”. Since we are all in are in a hurry to get out here as soon as possible, it’s time for me to wish you good luck in your future endeavors.
Thank you, and try to be like Eric Idle in Monty Python’s Life of Brian–always look on the bright side of life.
Joe’s Maybe Memorable Quote of the Day
A truly educated person is one who never stops learning.