So I haven’t blogged in a really long time. I was too busy hanging with my childhood amigos for some of the last times, and I had a blast. Today, I graduated. It wasn’t as moving as I thought it would be. It just kind of hit me that the people who meant something to me during my high school would be people that I’d see again. With them, it’s not goodbye, it’s see you later.( cliche I know) Anyways, I gave a commencement speech that I worked really hard on and that is reason number #2 for why I haven’t blogged in forever. Here’s the transcript.
To the class of 2012, here we are. High school graduation. Some of you loved high school. You’ll look back on these four years as the best of your lives. Others, not so much. You hated high school and you’ve been looking forward to this day since freshman orientation. But I think it’s fair to say that most of you are like me, you’re somewhere in the middle. It’s bittersweet. You’re excited to leave high school and acquire more freedom but you’re anxious about starting over in a new environment, with new responsibilities and big decisions looming on the horizon. But regardless about how we feel about this day, it is here. We are graduating. The first chapter of our story has been written.
When you think of the word story you probably think of cinderella or maybe a book your mom used to read to you. But the reality is that every single one of us is living out a story. Our lives are a story and our story is shared with the people around us. It’s shared with our family, our classmates, anyone we come in contact with. High school graduation is a milestone in our story. This ceremony marks the closing of the first chapter. And the closing of a chapter is a natural time to ask, How do you want to live the next?
Because it’s easy to live a small story. The last four years, we’ve gone to school, made ourselves busy with extracurriculars, logged on facebook, gone to bed, and then done it all again the next day. But next year, our schedules are going to change.
According to the latest statistics, 99 percent of you will go on to the workforce, college, or the military. Approximately one percent of you will join a protest movement and claim that you are, in fact, the 99 percent. Exactly four of you, and I’m not at liberty to say which four, will spend the majority of your adult lives on your parent or guardian’s couch watching reruns of The Office on TBS. This is a statistical fact. One of you, specifically, Adam Maher, will promptly move to Boulder, Colorado following graduation and spend the next twenty years playing Bob Marley songs during open mic night at local taverns.
Again, these are purely statistics.
But in all seriousness, our lives are going to change drastically in the next year. And in our new schedules, it will be just as easy to slip into the monotony of life, to slip into patterns and task-lists and self absorption, which all ultimately lead to small stories. Is that how you want to live?
If I’ve learned one thing in high school, it’s that life goes by incredibly fast. It feels like yesterday when we came in for high school orientation, walked the halls and wondered how we would ever find our way around that place. And now it’s over, we are graduating. The brevity of life forces us to ask the question: Ultimately, what kind of a story do we want to leave behind?
The biggest stories left behind are the ones that were lived for others. Martin Luther King Jr. left behind a big story. He once said that “Everyone must decide whether they will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” Since I had to look up a couple of those words on dictionary.com, I’ll try to put that into simpler language. Everyone has to decide who their story will be lived for. Do you want yours to read like Martin Luther King Jr’s
, full of purpose and meaning or Kim Kardashian’s, full of vanity and self-absorption? Will your story be lived for others or yourself?
See I believe that we are innately wired to find purpose and fulfillment in the service of others. And I encourage you to never let your story become only about yourself. Look around at the state of the world.
884 million people drink dirty water and more than one billion people go to bed hungry every night. But despite these horrific numbers, more disturbing is the fact that our own society has clean water, an overabundance of food and all sorts of wealth yet our country has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, and North America, the wealthiest continent scores the lowest on “happiness” and “satisfaction” polls.
Our materialistic American dream and our worship of fame, fortune, and self simply are not making us happy. It’s time we look outside ourselves for purpose and meaning.
Look around you at the need, both near and far. People need to have their physical needs met. They need food, they need water, but they need more than that. They also need a friend, a word of encouragement, or just someone to talk to. They need someone that cares.
Now look at yourself. Look at your desire to feel purposeful, to be wanted and loved. Now find out, to quote writer and theologian Frederick Beuchner, “where your deep gladness and the world’s hunger meet.” Class of 2012, our future success will not be defined by pay checks, diplomas, or doctorates. No, our future success will be defined by the lives we touch, the love we show, and the way we live. Everyone writes a story, make yours a big one.
This song has been the theme of these last couple weeks. Josh Garrels just knows how to make me feel.