Tag Archives: commencement address

69 Is The Title Of My Commencement Address

(To celebrate her high school graduation, my daughter and I are on a little hiatus together. A mother/daughter hiatus. I will be posting some of my favorite posts in the interim. Enjoy!)

Sixty-nine.

Are you giggling? Are you shifting in your seat uncomfortably? Are you looking around, wondering why some of your fellow graduates are twittering?

A private, or not-so-private joke. In the classroom, whenever I’d say “Turn to page 69″ or “The answer is 69″ giggles always erupted. I’d nod, or smile feebly and say, with a twinge of sarcasm, “Yes, that’s a new one on me! You got me there!”

But that didn’t matter. You still thought you were the first class to laugh. You still thought you were the first to get the joke. You still thought I had no idea what you were giggling about.

And here we are, on your graduation day.

Giggling about sixty-nine.

Why is the Year of the Four Emperors so funny? 69 AD. The year that Galba, Otho, Vitellius and finally Vespasian ruled the Roman Empire after Nero’s suicide. A time of great turmoil, anarchy and unrest.

Sixty-nine. The atomic number of Thulium. A rare metal. Used for radiation.

Psalm 69. “I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait.” How many of you felt waiting for exam grades to be posted.

Jared Allen. Jersey number 69. Defensive End for the Minnesota Vikings.

69%. Just under a passing grade at many schools.

Rotate this amazing number 180 degrees and it’s still 69.

So many ways to view a simple number. A year. A jersey number. A prayer.

My view. Your view. The person-next-to-you’s view. As individual and unique as a fingerprint.

You were all taught the same material. You all studied the same things. But you each took away from it something that is unique to you and your experiences. After learning it, you each applied it in different ways. Some created advantage with the material. Some disregarded it. And others let it get the best of them.

You will leave this institution and go on to do other things. Notice that I didn’t say “better” things. Because some of you won’t. Some of you will choose not to use the tools provided. You will rest on your laurels and wonder why the guy next to you has it so good. You will sit back and view life in a limited way.

The choice is yours. You can choose to do great things. You can choose to better yourself and your surroundings. You can choose to view things differently. You can choose to create good in your life.

It’s all in the way you look at things.

If you take away one thing from your educational experience let it be the ability to look at things in a new way. A better way. A more enlightened way.

A glyph for the zodiac sign of Cancer. A percentage. ’69 – The year of Woodstock.

Now when you hear the number 69 it will have more than one definition for you. You will be reminded to view things from a different angle. You might challenge yourself to discover more definitions for the number 69.

And you might giggle. Because you know something the next guy doesn’t.

It can be our private joke.

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Filed under Ponderings

The Title Of My Commencement Address? Sixty-Nine.

(Taking Mary Schmich up on her commencement speech challenge given years ago, here is my speech. Can’t wait to read yours!)

Sixty-nine.

Are you giggling? Are you shifting in your seat uncomfortably? Are you looking around, wondering why some of your fellow graduates are twittering?

A private, or not-so-private joke. In the classroom, whenever I’d say “Turn to page 69” or “The answer is 69” giggles always erupted. I’d nod, or smile feebly and say, with a twinge of sarcasm, “Yes, that’s a new one on me! You got me there!”

But that didn’t matter. You still thought you were the first class to laugh. You still thought you were the first to get the joke. You still thought I had no idea what you were giggling about.

And here we are, on your graduation day.

Giggling about sixty-nine.

Why is the Year of the Four Emperors so funny? 69 AD. The year that Galba, Otho, Vitellius and finally Vespasian ruled the Roman Empire after Nero’s suicide. A time of great turmoil, anarchy and unrest.

Sixty-nine. The atomic number of Thulium. A rare metal. Used for radiation.

Psalm 69. “I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait.” How many of you felt waiting for exam grades to be posted.

Jared Allen. Jersey number 69. Defensive End for the Minnesota Vikings.

69%. Just under a passing grade at many schools.

Rotate this amazing number 180 degrees and it’s still 69.

So many ways to view a simple number. A year. A jersey number. A prayer.

My view. Your view. The person-next-to-you’s view. As individual and unique as a fingerprint.

You were all taught the same material. You all studied the same things. But you each took away from it something that is unique to you and your experiences. After learning it, you each applied it in different ways. Some created advantage with the material. Some disregarded it. And others let it get the best of them.

You will leave this institution and go on to do other things. Notice that I didn’t say “better” things. Because some of you won’t. Some of you will choose not to use the tools provided. You will rest on your laurels and wonder why the guy next to you has it so good. You will sit back and view life in a limited way.

The choice is yours. You can choose to do great things. You can choose to better yourself and your surroundings. You can choose to view things differently. You can choose to create good in your life.

It’s all in the way you look at things.

If you take away one thing from your educational experience let it be the ability to look at things in a new way. A better way. A more enlightened way.

A glyph for the zodiac sign of Cancer. A percentage. ’69 – The year of Woodstock.

Now when you hear the number 69 it will have more than one definition for you. You will be reminded to view things from a different angle. You might challenge yourself to discover more definitions for the number 69.

And you might giggle. Because you know something the next guy doesn’t.

It can be our private joke.

(Thanks to SubWow at Absense of Alternatives  for pointing me in the direction of this awesome cause and the prize for this week’s commencement address challenge! Simply link your speech in the comments section of this post and one of my darling children will randomly draw a name/speech from a hat. Good luck and thanks for playing!)

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Filed under Ponderings, Soapbox

You Are Cordially Invited To Give A Commencement Address. Any Commencement Address.

 My niece graduated from high school this past weekend. The commencement speaker was a favorite English teacher at the school. His speech was entertaining. Succinct. Poignant. It reminded me a bit of the original “Sunscreen Speech” by Mary Schmich.

I was first made aware of the Sunscreen Speech by the song “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen) by Baz Luhrman. And like many, I believed that the song was based on a speech that Kurt Vonnegut gave at MIT.

He didn’t. And it wasn’t.

In fact, the song isn’t based on a commencement speech at all. It was modeled after a column that Mary Schmich, of the Chicago Tribune, wrote. Her column that day was the speech she would give if she were ever asked to give one.

And that gave me an idea.

OK. Not really.

 If you read her original column she asks everyone, over the age of 26, to write the commencement speech they would give if ever asked.

So I am.

On Friday.

MY idea begins with asking my readers to participate, too. We’ll all link back here and read each other’s commencement addresses.

Deal?

(Now I just need to figure out how to have everyone link here in an organized fashion. If any WordPress gurus have suggestions, I’m all ears! Thanks!)

A recap: Write the commencement speech YOU would give to the class of 2010 if you were asked. Use it as your post on Friday, June 18th, 2010 and link back here. Here is the original column by Mary Schmich and below is the song that was inspired by it to help with your inspiration. Have fun! Can’t wait ’till Friday to read your thoughts. Hmmmmm, I’m thinking I may have to come up with a prize, too. (See? I’m flying by the seat of my pants here. Give me a break. I just had one HECK of a weekend!)

 

(Weekend Update: As stressful as it could have been, it really wasn’t that bad. Thanks to all of you for your support, kind words, prayers and positive thoughts. I am currently feeling very silly looking back on the amount of stress I allowed myself to experience. I learned that I have the tools to handle the crazies. I was kind. Patient. Myself. And thank goodness, it was relatively drama free. Still, it is sooooo good to be home!)

18 Comments

Filed under Lessons Learned