Graduation season just passed. For yet another year, no one asked the Observer to speak at a graduation ceremony. It’s no surprise, really. Commencement speakers are supposed to be people of accomplishment. This year, for example, the speaker at Simmons College was Bianca Jagger. The Observer’s wisdom is no match for that of someone with enough insight and savvy to marry Mick Jagger in 1971 — at the height of the sex and drug craze.
But if the Observer was asked to speak at a graduation, the Observer would remember to keep the speech short — very short. Graduation speakers should be brief in order to make sure that there is plenty of time for the master of ceremonies to slowly and methodically announce the name of every single graduate, including his or her middle name. Even if there are thousands of graduates. When attendees wildly cheer at the end of a graduation, it’s not because they’re happy to see their friend or relative graduate. It’s to celebrate that the ceremony has finally ended.
The Observer once knew a guy who would sit right three or four rows back directly in front of the pulpit in church. The guy would pretend to fall asleep after about 20 minutes of preaching. In the guy’s opinion, the preacher would shorten his sermons if he thought his congregation was falling asleep.
So the Observer would be short. In fact, the entire speech would be as follows:
“The most important wisdom, outside of the Bible, is in this sentence: ‘A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.’ The Observer is not certain who said it, but it’s true.
“Success is not found on the couch in front of the TV. No goal was ever reached gossiping on a cell phone. Big things are not accomplished listening to your favorite songs while you drive. To reach your dreams, you must get out into the world and do things that are not comfortable for you to do. In conventional parlance, you must perform ‘outside your comfort zone.’
“Maybe achieving your goal means risking all you have. Maybe it means public speaking. Maybe it means risking public failure. Maybe it means mortgaging your house to start a business. Whatever your dream, achieving it will involve risk and discomfort.
“Accomplishing success will also mean perseverance and hard work. Lincoln lost two senate elections in the four years before he was elected president. Edison tried about 10,000 times before he found a way to make a storage battery. Find any person who has successfully built a business, family, or organization. He or she will tell you that it was one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.
“Fear and sloth lie like thieves waiting to rob you of your dreams. Leave the safety of your couch. Embrace risk and perseverance. They are your friends — the only friends who will willingly help you every step of the way down the road to your goals.
“Now, here is the master of ceremonies to slowly and methodically announce each of your names, including your middle names. Even though there are thousands of you.”
The Settlement Observer is a resident of Farmington.