Let this graduation commence

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Posted 5/31/16 (Tue)

What A Joke
By John Bayer

School is ending, and everyone I know is graduating. One friend just got her doctorate. Two other friends have kids graduating high school. Three of the five people I stalk online are finishing up college.
I’m reminded of the commencement speakers from my two college graduations. Every year, colleges across the nation pay big money and serve up honorary degrees to their commencement speakers – a bunch of arrogant blowhards puffed up by their own sense of self-importance.
Why can’t that be me?!
No one has asked me (yet) to speak at a graduation, but when they do, I’ll be prepared. I already have the speech written. Here’s an excerpt:
“I am honored to have been asked to give this year’s commencement address. I don’t stand before you today because I’m better than you. Even though I am. I don’t stand before you today because I’m witty or eloquent. Although I am both of those things. No, I stand here before you today because the 24 people ahead of me on the college’s list of potential speakers all had prior commitments.
“You might feel a bit awkward, sitting there in your 1970s choir robes and dinner plate hats. I tell you to embrace that feeling. Everything worth going after in life comes with its share of awkwardness and embarrassment. But don’t let that stop you, because even the things NOT worth going after also come with their share of awkwardness and embarrassment. You’re stuck either way.
“Graduates, this is your moment. Cherish it. Savor it. For many of you, it’s all downhill from here. You’ve peaked, graduate. It’s over.
“For others, this is only the beginning. Your trajectory is onward and upward. You’ll always be striving for the next thing. You won’t be satisfied until you reach your next goal. And by the time you reach it, another goal will already be in your sights. All of your hard work, all of your striving and can-do attitude is guaranteed to leave you friendless, loveless, and on several prescribed antidepressants.
“Enjoy this perfect moment. Don’t think right now about what happens after this moment, where taxes are high, jobs are scarce and every program on television is a reboot of some terrible show from the ‘80s.
“But don’t lose heart. That only leads to bitterness. When bitterness takes root, you become a miserable husk of a human being whose only joy is bringing others down by delivering depressing speeches at one of the most important moments in a person’s life.
“Congratulations, class of 2039!”