The following is a slightly edited version of an e-mail I sent to my Theater Arts students two weeks after their graduation.
Future ladies and gentlemen,
Many moons ago, one of you planted a thought in my head: that I would be the one to deliver the speech during your commencement exercises. Of course, the vain part of my brain (which means my entire brain) loved the idea, even if I knew I did not nearly have enough life experience and/or professional credentials to be chosen as speaker. Besides, I’m not [a person who meets a particular qualification]. And you know how Southville has an obsession with [only choosing people who meet a particular qualification].
Of course it didn’t happen. I was relegated to assisting the Powerpoint dude during your graduation. I didn’t, though. I just sat there tweeting, and laughing at the technical screw-ups.
I also sat there wondering what I would say to you, if I was the one behind the podium instead of that [lady who met that particular qualification]. I think I’ve already told you everything I ever wanted to already. I think you already know of the things I so fiercely believe in: spending yourself for love; being men and women of integrity; kicking ass at what you love doing; plain and simple honesty … you know of them, and I hope you learn them before life teaches you.
So what else do I have to say?
There’s a phrase that I use, in my head, whenever I realize how great my life is: “I’m Blessed Beyond Belief.” I am. And, my dear students, so are you. I don’t just mean financially (because Heaven knows none of us is blessed enough there). I mean you are Blessed Beyond Belief simply because you are in the position you are in: young, inspired, and freshly graduated from the grueling International Baccalaureate course. You are blessed beyond belief because YOU are the one in that position, and not the kid who fell asleep by the sidewalk between Serendra and Market! Market!.
There is no logical reason that God or the Order of the Universe put YOU through the IB curriculum instead of a life of poverty and hardship. None of you were born with a greater inherent value than that kid. None of us were born with a greater inherent value than ANYONE. And yet, here we are, in our blessed-beyond-belief lives, and there they are, asleep in the pavements of this world.
Yes, life is not fair. And you should realize, more often than not, that life’s unfairness is IN YOUR FAVOR.
Chew on that truth, for a moment. Chew it up, swallow it down, until it seeps into your bones.
And, here is what I think you (we) should do about it.
1. Be seriously grateful. Take a moment in the morning to close your eyes, take a deep breath, and give thanks. And keep going back to it. It’s the best way to keep from thinking that the world owes you anything, because face it, the world doesn’t owe you shit.
2. Enjoy it. Use it. Spend it. Relish it. Yes, you are blessed beyond belief. Let the rest of the world deal with it! Don’t leave your diploma/gifts/uniqueness on the shelf.
3. In your own way, tip the scale in the favor of the “unlucky”, the “unblessed”, the “unchosen”. You have a responsibility to level the playing field a little bit for everyone else–everyone who wasn’t chosen… because there is no reason that you were chosen, and they weren’t.
Got it? Of course you got it. You’re IB graduates.
I sincerely hope your time in my class was good for you, as it was for me. Not just fun, but good. I hope you become people who want to BE good, instead of LOOK good, and I wish you the best in your future endeavours.
Now go and kick ass.