Living Extraordinary Lives

A friend of mine posted a link on Facebook to a political blog (I think) with a headline that blared:  ‘YOU’RE NOT SPECIAL’: WELLESLEY HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER GIVES THE MOST BLUNT COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS EVER. Intrigued with the blurb that the publication chose to quote, I followed the link to the complete text and formed my own opinion.

Erm . . . to be blunt, the headline missed the point.  The point of David Mccullough, Jr.'s speech was not that the 2012 graduating class of Wellesley High School were spoiled and coddled, but that they should go out and make their lives something special.  With kind words and a humorous approach, he managed to deliver his message and still leave his students feeling positive about themselves.  I suspect he is a favorite teacher at Wellesley High School, which explains his role as faculty speaker.

I felt it such a good speech, I wanted to share it.

Mr. McCullough (purportedly the son of David McCullough, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian) summed it all up in his closing statement.

None of this day-seizing, though, this YLOOing, should be interpreted as license for self-indulgence.  Like accolades ought to be, the fulfilled life is a consequence, a gratifying byproduct.  It’s what happens when you’re thinking about more important things.  Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view.  Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.  Go to Paris to be in Paris, not to cross it off your list and congratulate yourself for being worldly.  Exercise free will and creative, independent thought not for the satisfactions they will bring you, but for the good they will do others, the rest of the 6.8 billion–and those who will follow them.  And then you too will discover the great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself.  The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special.
Because everyone is.
Congratulations.  Good luck.  Make for yourselves, please, for your sake and for ours, extraordinary lives.
Thank you, Mr. McCullough. Someday I want to be a writer like you.

—A Chaotic Mind

No comments: