It is August 2nd as I write this. It's officially afternoon, and I'm slightly upset by the fact that I did not write this yesterday since it could have been a great "beginning" moment. You know, new month, new post, new life [if that's even possible].
Anyway, I wanted to pick up writing again (after an absence of almost a year). Hopefully we can chalk it up to a challenge that I've overcome and a proof of perseverance and not just the bad excuse of a busy undergrad schedule. Well, that bad excuse will never be used by me ever again (unless I decide I do want to go back and study Psychology, Architecture, and whatever else I was fascinated by). But, for the most part, I will not use that particular excuse ever again (a busy grad schedule has a nice ring to it though).
I graduated on May 5th, 2012. It has been almost three months since that sunny summer day. Actually, it has been 2 months and 28 days, not that anyone's counting but me. So, after four years of tuition, work-study, late nights, and papers, what have I learned?
A lot, I think.
It feels like a lot. It feels like I'm a changed person but at the same time I just cannot seem to put my finger on what exactly I learned or how exactly I changed. Maybe that's the real proof of gaining knowledge - after it happens, it seems like it was always a part of you. Or, maybe that's just me theorizing.
But, I digress.
May 5th, 2012 - My graduation day was a flurry of colors and emotions. In the heat, under my graduation cap and gown, with the guys in my row enjoying a plastic water bottle filled with some transparent liquid, I could not for the life of me pay attention to the keynote speaker, Ken Burns. Mind you, I love school. I love listening to lectures about Philosophy, Art History and some of the other widely-stereotyped-as-boring subjects. But the words of this speech, with its importance as serving as the closing chapter to my undergraduate career and even introduction to life as a recent graduate, were completely lost on me.
Well, that won't do at all. After being told later by a fellow graduate (who, by the way, did not like school) that it was in fact a great speech, I was bewildered at my moment of lack of concentration. Of course, the only logical step I could take at that point was to watch the keynote speech on the Loyola Marymount University website. This time, I took notes.
Ken Burns asks of us to:
1. Pursue future and past, as guide.
2. Keep involved with school.
3. Do not descend too deeply into specialism in your work, educate all your parts.
4. Replace cynicism with healthy skepticism.
5. Don’t confuse success with excellence. Careerism is death.
6. Give up addictions and habits.
7. Insist on heroes and be one.
8. Read. Read. Read.
9. Serve your country. Insist we fight right wars from within this land.
10. Do not let government outsource candor, democracy.
11. Insist we support sciences and especially the arts. They have nothing to do with the actual defense of our country they just make the country worth defending.
12. Do not lose your enthusiasm – that is God in us.*
As I listened to the graduation keynote speech again, I realized I had heard the words, but in the chaos, I could not see the meaning behind them. It was me bored out of my mind and talking to my best friend while doodling while trying not to get caught passing notes while sneaking some bites of food in Geography class in Gr. 6 all over again. Maybe that's what I learned. That it's okay not to completely understand the first time. That it's okay to enjoy not understanding the first time. That it's okay to go back and be neurotic about taking notes on a speech that I won't be tested on - although, I'd like to think I would have always done that. Well, learning is a process.
It was a great speech.
Thank you, Ken Burns.
* Ken Burns' words from the speech streamed on the LMU website.