My graduation speech
Thereís really nothing you can say in a graduation speech that isnít a clich. Commencement means beginning. Youíre starting out on your new life, blah, blah, blah.
My advice to new graduates is to take a road trip. Have a plan or donít, because either way, it wonít turn out like you expect it to. You might go along swimmingly, right on schedule every day, but more likely, youíre going to have some car trouble along the way. You may not reach your destination, or you might get in really late at night. Be prepared. Take a cooler full of snacks and water. Always have a deck of cards and a pen and paper, jumper cables, a blanket, your angry eyes, monkey chow... Take the scenic byway now and then. Be optimistic as you go along, because really, why not? Stay in touch with your friends and family; you never know when you might need them to put you up for the night. As you drive along, be prepared for moments of silence, when you canít tune in anything on the radio, youíre sick of all your music, and everyone else has fallen asleep. When this happens, let your mind wander. You might be surprised where it takes you.
Sometimes youíll be in the right place at the wrong time, like when our daughter got stranded in Portland, a pretty good place to be stranded, but there was E. coli in the drinking water, so not such a good place to be stranded. Sometimes youíll barely skirt disaster, like the time Alec and I were driving west on I-80 in Utah, just past the Wyoming state line. We were less than two minutes behind a head-on collision that killed both drivers. They closed the road behind us and there we were, trapped on the interstate for hours. We played a lot of gin rummy and rationed a candy bar, one bite every 30 minutes. It took us five hours to go six miles.
But thereís usually a silver lining Ė in this case, literally. We were so behind schedule that by the time we approached Nevada it was dusk, and we saw the most beautiful sunset I think Iíve ever seen. On either side of the road the salt flats shimmered like mirrors, and there were huge storm clouds over the mountains, back-lit with bright orange, hot pink and gold. Rays of light shot out from behind them in all directions. All that was missing was the heavenly chorus.
So, graduates, take a road trip, because thereís no better metaphor for the road ahead than the road ahead.