The lyrics are not reflective of this year, nor this senior class, but the title of the American Authors song that President Joe sang most definitely is. It goes without saying (at least I hope it does) this is, indeed, “gonna be the best day of my life” for all of you, and not just the senior class. And while what follows is geared towards the 1300 graduates at this morning’s commencement ceremony now-turned-members of “alumni nation,” everyone should suspect whatever prose created below will resonant with whomever the readers are.
There is a thing called “friendship.” It is unlike any other experience we can have in life because that is exactly what it is–it is unique. I make this statement not from ego, not out of pride, but from my experiences made available to myself as a human being. Friendship is dependent upon each and every one of us giving at least 100% effort for 100% of the time to 100% of all of us.
It is similar to the grueling week of tech for a theater show, or for 16 weeks of student teaching when we really learn to work together, support each other, and celebrate each other. It is the challenge of last minute changes to schedules that teaches us to be flexible. It is even the unexpected event (weather, bus flat tire, late lunch or dinner) which teaches us patience and understanding.
But it is not these things you will remember next year, in 5 years, in 10 years, even 30 years. It will not be the heat, the cold, the rain, or the snow. It will not be my voice letting everyone at school know you need to “speak up and say something” (OK: Maybe that saying will be remembered … virtually scarred into your memory banks). What you will remember will be the smiles, the laughter, the tears of joy, the memories of audiences clapping, screaming, dancing and cheering.
It will be the memories of every performance you gave or even every lesson you created that you share with the latest group of people when you return and partake in alumni days and even reunions, and all the ones in between the milestone years. You will return to reunite with old friends and begin every sentence with what I always say constantly: “Remember when …”
I would … and in many cases have done “anything for you.” You all will always be family to me and sometime down the road, we will relive those “best days of our lives” we enjoyed the most. Because of this, I propose to you guys to do the following list of things over the course of the next few days like me because you will never be able to everything in one sitting. And because underneath the tough exterior that the outsider sees and thinks is the real us, I really am a sentimental man who, as I said to people this morning is far better at conveying his true feelings in the written word than face-to-face:
- Go to a field at sunset or on a non-busy day. Sit down and simply “be.”
- Go in your backyard at sunset or on a non-busy day. Sit down and simply “be.”
- Walk a trail or go bike riding by yourself when the sun is low in the sky, the complex is empty and simply “be.”
- Walk the halls of what came before you without anyone in the building. Before going through the building, turn around, look back, and simply “be.”
- Take your time remembering those moments that made you the person you are. Remember the first time it happened and savor the last. Remember: Just simply “be.”
I could go on, but I believe you get the idea.
Take the time to look within yourself and know one thing—You did awesome. I am extremely proud of you guys and everything you accomplished. If I could be half the people you guys are, I have done something right.
Perhaps you now understand that graduating and to simply “be” means so much more than the literal meaning … so very much more. Congratulations on graduating!! Now go change lives!! I’ll catch up with you guys someday, somehow.
Oh, and don’t forget me while you are at it!!