I’m not sure that being 75 entitles me to sobriquet of “wise elder,” but having been invited to offer Commencement thoughts to the graduating classes of 2020 here they are.
The Class of 2020!
What a great year to be graduating. You will be the class with 20-20 vision; 20-20 hindsight.
But. And this is the most important thing I will say to you. You will never be the class of 20-20 nostalgia.
You will never be the class to put on rosy coloured, false memories, of “Those were the days!”
Nostalgia is the enemy of the better. It is the enemy of clarity. It is the enemy of wisdom.
And right now, the planet desperately needs an entire cohort of wisdom, clarity, and discernment of the “better.”
But. And this is the other most important thing I will say to you. You are the cohort who are embedding in your minds, hearts, flesh, and bones the blessings and banes of “novelty.”
Novelty is the engine of creativity; of transformation; of healing and reconciliation. It is the never-before-this-new-possibility. It is the engine of evolution. It is why we are all here in this beautiful, wonderfully diverse world. Never wish that novelty would cease. Embrace it.
But. And this is one more most important thing I will say to you. Recognize that novelty requires learning how to learn as you go. And that means novelty will always be messy. Will always mean failures. Will always mean uncertainty, anxiety, doubting, and second guessing. Will always mean real losses; real lost opportunities; real endings of dreams; real losses of life, income, and careers. Novelty is not always nice.
But. And this is the last most important thing I will say to you. As an elder, I ask you today to burn your degrees. Burn the thought that you have graduated. Never stop studying; never stop learning. Never stop asking, “What is REALLY going on?” Never stop asking, “Am I asking the right questions?” Because if you don’t ask the right questions, you will end up trying to solve the wrong problems. Look for trends. Wonder “How will the work I am doing now be changed when the world no longer works the way it does right now?” (Because the world is always ceasing to work the way it does right now. That is what novelty means; that is what evolution means.)
But. And this really is the last most important thing I will say to you. Trust that in spite of human stupidity, greed, and corruption we humans – and that includes you – are still part of the amazing evolution of the entire cosmos. The creative drive towards increased beauty, intensity, and harmony. Don’t stop finding love. Don’t stop making love. Don’t stop keeping friends and allies. Stay juicy. Stay joyous. Stay safe. And be kind.
May 4, 2020.