So, I got duped into being the "backup" speaker for the Military Base Graduate Recognition Ceremony for my college. I agreed despite really not wanting to. My political ideals lean a little more to the left than most who would be attending the ceremony and obviously a church is not my cup of tea, but I still said yes.
Well, I was the backup speaker for so long that I prepared a wonderful speech. I am extremely proud of it. I had my Literature teacher read it and he raved about it. I figured that because I hadn't heard anything by today that I was the speaker, so I started inviting people that I knew had base access to come and watch me speak and enjoy the ceremony.
Then I get the text: "I forgot to tell you that Bryant finally got his speech to Mr. Brown. I am so sorry."
I am not angry, more disappointed. I feel like I don't have the right to be disappointed, though, because I didn't want to do it in the first place.
And I still have to go to the ceremony. For an atheist I hold an awful lot of guilt.
Well anyway, here's the speech I was going to give:
T.S. Elliot said, “What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from. “ Graduation speeches often begin with “we’re done!” Or something similar, something stating that this is the end of some great chapter, but like T.S. Elliot said, “the end is where we start from.” Yes, this is the end of your community college education, and yes for many of you, this is probably the end of your formal education, but I would like to share another quote: “Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.” Oscar Wilde said that.
I have valued the time I have spent at Copper Mountain College to the utmost. I am a fan of the community college circuit; I feel it is an important aspect of the educational system, but everything I have learned from my time here, I have not learned inside a classroom. As anyone involved with the military, whether it be active duty or simple dependent, you know that the best instructions are the ones you didn’t learn sitting in a classroom for two hours and fifty minutes. Without my formal education I would not have the aptitude to know who T.S. Eliot or Oscar Wilde even are but without the lessons I have learned outside of the classroom I would not have the aptitude to apply the words of two great men. (For those of your who are thinking “I don’t know who they are… where did I go wrong?” Remember that I am an English major, the written word is my passion.)
When it comes to formal education, I know where my passion lies. I am one of the lucky ones. I was raised reading; the words of long dead men and women motivate me, but not everyone is so lucky. It takes time to find what you love. Spend that time. Don’t let yourself be pushed into something that you don’t want to do forever. Make yourself happy first. If you are happy, you will have the capability to support other people’s happiness. Only be support though, don’t be their world. You are already your own world; daily ins and outs, ups and downs, your hands are full enough. Focus on yourself first, your own passions, and you’re guaranteed to be successful in life.
I have one more quote for you. This is the most important one, not only because it is a by a man that I personally consider to be the best poet America has ever seen, but because it’s completely true. “every hour of the day and night is an unspeakably perfect miracle.” Walt Whitman knew human beings. He had a keen insight into the inner workings of each and every person he came across and his words are still true today. I know that most of my speech has not been about graduating, and has not been about how proud of everyone I am, or how incredibly amazing it is to stand in front of a group like this one, of men and women who have enlisted to protect this country, or their children, or their spouses, or their parents. All of you have something to be proud of. That’s cliché, but it’s the bottom line. Every minute of your lives, whether spent in a classroom or not is important and should be treated like the miracle that it is.
You guys are awesome. Congratulations to the class of 2011. Thank you.