Sunday, June 8, 2008

Why I'm Never Invited To Speak At Graduations - Part Two

And then I had this strange dream, explaining why “It’s all about me” is not a good subject for a graduation speech.

It was a large auditorium, normally used as a sports arena. Perhaps half a thousand students filled the center area.

We had talked – toward a dozen of them and I, briefly, for twenty minutes before the ceremonies began. All of them were excited – an artificial adrenalin rush. Sadly, they were unaware that for many of them, perhaps the majority, this was the last time in their lives that they would receive any form of public acknowledgement for an achievement.

In my dream I’m wearing the traditional graduation robe. Unusual colors adorn the sash around my neck – colors representing the two schools of higher education through which I had barely managed to squeak.

A black girl – one of the students – is taking pictures. She’s wearing a shiny blue party dress under her robe. She’s barefoot, creating a more endearing picture than the ones she’s taking.

All impressions are fleeting, a merry-go-round of activities at the edge of vision, a brief turn … and then gone.

I am standing at the podium. It’s suddenly warm. I have the impression that all eyes are focused in my general direction. I see a flash of shiny blue from the third row. Comforting.

“Class of 2008, congratulations.” The sound of my own voice booming back at me comes as a brief shock. Looking out, I’m painfully aware that if I was as wise as the occasion suggests, I’d quit now and go home. At least half the attendees have already mentally dismissed me, rightly dwelling on the parties that would extend well into the night.

Fool that I was, I continued. “I remember well my own graduation,” I stated. “The theme that year was ‘At the Crossroads.”

Inwardly I smiled. I alone knew what was coming.

“When I reached that crossroad, I turned in the wrong direction. I blew it. I blew it for me, and I blew it for you.”

Now there was quiet in the auditorium.

“I mean, look around,” I continued. “We have global warming, energy prices have gone up because sources are running out, weather conditions are getting worse, the ice caps are melting, the economy is almost ruined, and almost every country in the world hates us – pardon me – hates you.”

“I knew the fuel shortage was coming. I saw it coming forty years ago, and what did I do? I gave you the I POD. I did that.”

I paused, wondering if they knew about the concept of tar and feathers.

“And here’s the good part. I’m responsible for the mess, but I’m not going to pay for it. I’m simply going to walk away – not my problem. And I taught the next generation (the “me” generation) to do the same thing.”

“So here we are at your generation,” I concluded. “But don’t worry. There’s maybe just enough left for you to sail past the point of no return in ease and relative comfort. Take what you want and split. You’re welcome to follow the example I set for you. And don’t worry. No matter HOW selfish you are, the world will likely not destroy humanity until at least fifty or sixty years after you’re gone. Why should you care? I didn’t.”

And then I woke up. And for a long time I thought about that dream. For a long time I wondered why nobody ever told the truth to graduation classes. And all the time I knew the answer. It’s why nobody has ever asked me to speak to a graduation class …

or should.


Julie Morrison said...

It's a shame you weren't asked to speak and deliver the truth. If they don't get it, there may be no one left to hear it.
I think you would have been brilliant. You were off to a great start...
Write it anyway, and post it. I will read it and reference it. Who knows how these things reverberate...

Nicki said...

Re: your conversation with Anyms: I too suffer from the same thing, I like to talk about myself and do so in a flamboyant and theatrical manner. I've embraced it. It's who I am, it's what I do, if you were me, you'd have to too. My blog is where I get to talk about my favourite subject (me), but the best part is--no one has to read it. I could be spinning nothing into the electronic ether, and that's why I like blogging. Truly, my audience only comes into it rarely. Such as when I'm lecturing them on the awesomeness of Lord N. or some such.

Then re: why no one asks you to speak at graduations. I feel the same way around children and high schoolers. I want to say to them "You know what? You really AREN'T going to need to know this algebra bs. But what you should do--nay, NEED to do--is do well, is make yourself care about it for this moment, and then forget it. Work hard so that in the future you can be the adult you've always wanted to be. And if that means working with your hands and drinking beer all night, you have my blessing. Being an adult is so much cooler than you could ever imagine, but you. Have. to wait. Your Turn."

My generation is up for the challenge. We're almost ready to take over running the show (almost) and I think it's going to be okay. I hope so, anyway. :)

Deigh Wyandot said...

So have you recently been at a graduation ceremony? Maybe this is why you are dreaming about speaking at one, it is still very fresh in your mind about being at one?
Sometimes offering the truth to someone is always the best thing to do. If you can't be truthful in your life to the people around you, what else do you have but empty meaninglessness.