The time has come for me to conclude my affairs. My lockers are empty, my bag is packed, the door is closed, the key is gone, and I must say farewell. I must abandon the world that I have known for eighteen years and look to the world of tomorrow. I must give thanks to all that have helped me learn and grow, but I must also say good-bye. For this is the end. This is the end of our lives under the helping hand of our parents, mentors, friends. However, we shall not be far, and the wonders of this age will allow us to maintain our myriad connections through ever easier means. Today is not truly the end.
Philosophers often talk about the past, the present, and the future. Some people suggest that we retain history so that we might learn from it. Others ask us to turn our attention to the future, to set our current actions in proper order so that our futures may be great. Still others advise that we remain in the present, for to do otherwise is to forget to enjoy life as it is now rather than as it will be ten years from now. Some tell us to remember, some tell us to dream, and some tell us to be. Do none of these things. Or rather, do all of them together, simultaneously, in cohesion, drawing upon the strengths of each.
Let us begin, perhaps, with the present. In a book called Deep Survival, a very wise man by the name of Laurence Gonzalez once wrote the phrase “be here, now.” This was not some sharp command to a child demanding that he “get over here right now”, but rather it is a call to all of us to appreciate where we are “here” and “now”. My dear fellow seniors, you are graduating. It may be hot today, your suit may feel stuffy, your seat may be uncomfortable. But you are graduating. Appreciate the significance of that singular word; revel in the meaning of this day. Be here, now.
Yet Sunday will come at last, and then Monday and Tuesday, so on and so forth, and we must see what the future holds in store for us. Today, the world is not a perfect place, and nor will it be tomorrow. Human nature requires that this is so. There is a saying that the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. All of those that I see before me are good men. Not one of us can really save the world. I yearn for a world that is not the one you and I know, I fight for a world with a better future. And I will die before that battle is won. Every age will have its measure of horror and tragedy, and every day there will be something to complain about. However, there is another saying that it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. Shadow will forever shroud our lives, but through action, diligence, and effort we may drive it back. While none of us can save the world, together we can keep it in balance. Each of us has a responsibility, a duty to do our small part. One does not have to be a famed philanthropist or a renowned politician to change the world. Anyone can do so with any passionate endeavor. Do one thing that positively affects the life of another, and you help the world. If we all do one thing, the change adds up. This is one reason why I have so much respect for teachers, and in particular for our prized faculty here, because there is little more important than to help a child grow and go on to do great things. We can only thank you, and fulfill that duty.
Finally, it is also our duty to learn. We must learn from our mistakes and from our successes. And for that, we need the past. In the past lie memories, some ancient, some fresh, and within those memories are connections to people, places, objects, ideas. Our connections in life are vital to our understanding of the world and of ourselves. The meanings of our surroundings and the thoughts, the beliefs, the cardinal rules of our peers and our friends are what guide us through life. Do not forget them. Memory is how you and I shall live on once we have passed. Remember your history, and remember the world’s history. We all have much to learn from both.
Live for the present, learn for the future, and remember. Remember us. Remember Cushing, remember the Class of 2010, remember your parents, your mentors, your friends, your enemies, your lessons, your loved ones, your self. Know yourself, love yourself, and go out into the world. Here I bid you congratulations, and a most bittersweet farewell. The time has come.