Amidst an Ending, Starting Anew

All around the country, words of wisdom have been spewing forth from high school and college podiums by an eclectic group of speakers.  These bold-face dignitaries share nuggets of thoughts and observations designed to provoke and prod the graduate towards new levels of awareness as he makes the transition onto a  new life path – without the breadbasket of community, neighborhood and family to cradle him.

Here’s some examples:

You will never see a U-haul behind a hearse, you can’t take it with you.
Denzel Washington

For the most important decisions in your life, trust your intuition, and then work with everything you have, to prove it right.
Tim Cook

I could tell you that when you have trouble making up your mind about something, tell yourself you’ll settle it by flipping a coin. But don’t go by how the coin flips; go by your emotional reaction to the coin flip. Are you happy or sad it came up heads or tails?
David Books

Don’t let your fears overwhelm your desire. Let the barriers you face – and there will be barriers – be external, not internal. Fortune does favor the bold, and I promise that you will never know what you’re capable of unless you try.
Sheryl Sandburg 

Life is an improvisation. You have no idea what’s going to happen next and you are mostly just making things up as you go along.
Stephen Colbert

If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito.
Bêtte Reese

You will never have more energy or enthusiasm, hair, or brain calls than you have today.
Tom & Ray Magliozzi

 There’s few things that get you over your own crap more than working hard.

Adam Savage 

No one’s clamored for MY worlds or wisdom on graduation day, but here’s what I would have imparted to those eager, beaming young people had I been asked:

On November 18, 1995 Itzhak Perlman, the violinist, came on stage to give a concert at Lincoln Center in New York City.  Getting on stage is no small achievement for him. Stricken with polio as a child, he has braces on both legs and walks with the aid of two crutches. The audience sits quietly as he painfully and slowly walks across the stage, sits down, puts his crutches on the floor, undoes the clasps on his legs, bends down, picks up the violin, nods to the conductor and proceeds to play.

Just as he finishes the first few bars, one of the strings on his violin breaks.  Anyone knows that it is impossible to play symphonic work with just three strings. But that night, Itzhak Perlman refused to know that.

 You could see him modulating, changing, re-composing the piece in his head – to get new sounds from the strings that they had never made before.

When he finished, he smiled, wiped the sweat from his brow, and then said in a quiet tone, “You know, sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left.”

For all those moms whose back seats will soon be empty, embrace life’s lessons and go out and conquer the world too.

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