I was rummaging through an old hard drive of mine, and I stumbled upon my graduation speech from when I was valedictorian at Foran High in Milford, CT. Reading it now, I still agree with my message - although I definitely played a bit too loose with the word ‘Time’ and used some pretty pithy examples… Fun times!
But before I share it, here is a hilarious review of it by a local newspaper:
Loonis’ humorous address to his classmates drew giggles and laughs, but at the end he was serious. After listing facts and figures about the importance of time in modern society, Loonis offered a simpler explanation for the masses.
“Our present world is a thin page in a book that has no end, and every moment we choose to turn to a new page, a new place,” he said. “Our time is the path we follow. Today, every one of us makes a choice that affects the world.
“When John Tartaglio confronted a rare and unprecedented obstacle in his life’s course, his decision was definite - to overcome,” Loonis said. “Through his courage and mental fortitude, John has formed a new world around him, a community strengthened by his resolve, united by his will. Look to John to understand how to manipulate time.
“We are free and responsible to make the world as we want it. We have power, and we are limited only by our imaginations,” he said.
Here it is—
Esteemed faculty, honored guests, families, friends, and most particularly fellow classmates… 50 years ago Walt Disney studios released the “Lady and the Tramp.” 16 years ago Batman made its debut in American cinemas. And 14 years ago Sega Genesis produced the memorable game and character, Sonic the Hedgehog. What do these events have in common? Think June 23rd. On this day, time has connected the triumphs of the gaming and entertainment industry to the successes of our current class of 2005.
Unfortunately, however, this same time, which connects and unifies us to yesterday’s successes, has enslaved our modern society. Being on-time has become a cardinal virtue…The career-oriented executive must be on time for a board meeting at 7:00 a.m. His wife must drive her four sons to school at 7:30 a.m. Before their mother arrives, the sons need to eat breakfast, dress, and make their school lunches by 7:20 a.m. The exotic teenager, for her part, waits 15 minutes so she can turn up at school fashionably late. It seems like time has become the defining dimension. “Time is the deter-min-nator,” so to speak, telling us when we should do things and how we should do them.
But what is time? Is time the clicking of the clock? Or is time the intervals between the ticks on the clock? The American Heritage Dictionary defines time as the “spatial continuum in which events occur in apparently irreversible succession from the past through the present to the future.” As time’s basic unit of measure, the second, in accordance with the International System of Units, is 9,192,631,770 cycles of a caesium oscillator…The definition is a whole bunch of hullabaloo nonsense. Does time really come down to a random, scientific number?
What if time, like length, width, and depth, was only one dimension among many? Time may not be the ultimate feature to our world. What if the world we see, we smell, and we enjoy exists in infinite forms or infinite dimensions? What if a world with its own time, length, width, and depth exists for every decision every individual makes in his or her own life? Then time, in the way we perceive it, would describe the path one takes through the infinite number of worlds. In other words, our present world is a thin page in a book that has no end. At every moment we make a choice, we choose to turn to a new page, a new place. Our lives are those “adventure books” where at the bottom of the page we can decide to go home to safety on page 15, to follow the malicious beast into the sewers on page 87, or to make a robot to murder the beast on page 23. Our time is the path we follow.
This is the world as I see it. Everyday every one of us makes choices that affect the world. In doing so, one selects the world that is around him. By defining ourselves, we define the world in which we live in. So when a man decides to donate his fortune to a charity or a teacher decides to overtly criticize the forgetful student, they both choose the course they want to chart. We create time; we trace our paths toward different worlds. Time is the expedition we lead throughout our lives.
People lose confidence, optimism, and motivation as their personal trail encounters unexpected obstacles. When the course men and women try to chart through their various worlds does not become an immediate reality, they grow indifferent, filled with deep frustration. If a project or a goal fails despite tremendous effort, we despair. At such moments, I hear people lament, oh what can I do? We must realize that life is filled with intangible factors including luck, divine intervention, karma, circumstance or destiny. Time is the twisting route to a mountain pass where at any time large boulders from above can temporarily block the passageway. Although these intangibles may bump us from our course, we do not need to be driven permanently from our paths, or our time. Instead, let us persevere in times of difficulty and adversity. When John Tartaglio confronted a rare and unprecedented obstacle in his life course, his decision was definite: to overcome. Through his courage and mental fortitude, John has formed a new world around him. A community strengthened by his resolve; a school united by his will. Look to John to understand how to manipulate time.
We are all equal. And when I say this, I don’t refer to intellectual capacity or political rights. We all have the same power to decide between contrasting worlds, to define our existence, to create our own time. It is important that we do not set limits on ourselves because there are no limits. The world is not delineated by prevailing restrictions, perceptions, or definitions. In reality, there are no boundaries. There are no deadlines. Let your will guide you in your own time. Let your own path take shape regardless of fickle swings of society. But let us not blame society, however, for our failures. A failure comes from us and not our surroundings. Some may find this depressing, but on the contrary, it is liberating. We are free and responsible to make the world as we want it. We have power and we are only limited by our imaginations.
Imagine this world of infinity, where infinite decisions mark the infinite realms. There is hope. In infinity, there is possibility. One of those decisions you will make will lead you to an even better place. Today we are celebrating the improbable reunion of individuals, who all chose to persevere, to excel in a variety of domains, and to graduate. All of our personal paths and respective times have converged today. Tomorrow our personal clocks will once again begin to click on different times. These moments, remaining etched in the memories, will hopefully encourage us to see the brightness of time. We can navigate on the seas of time. We can choose our heading. So don’t let your surroundings muddle the internal clock. Relax. Enjoy. Concentrate.
Derek from American History X says it’s always good to end a paper with a quote. He says someone else has already said it best. So if you can’t top it, steal from them and go out strong. And I will do precisely that… (break in speech for suspense) ”The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot. “