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Bruce Eric Kaplan

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The Difficulty of Writing a Graduation Speech

Posted: 05/29/11 10:25 AM ET

What you are about to read is an excerpt from a little picture book for adults I wrote. It is the story of someone trying to come up with the perfect graduation speech.

I love graduation speeches. I have always loved them, I will always love them. Once when I was in my twenties, I laid on my old girlfriend's peach couch (which I still had, but not my girlfriend) and watched twelve hours of graduation speeches on Sunday being televised on that odd BOOK TV channel. I have never been happier.

Which isn't to say that I haven't been bored by graduation speeches. Of course I have. Like everything, they are often better in theory.

But the thing I find so compelling about them is that they represent this moment in time when someone is trying to make sense of his or her life. We spend so much time blindly getting
through our days (if we are lucky) and so little time stepping back and reflecting. Graduation speeches force you to reflect. They are about consciousness. Nothing is better than consciousness. (Except oddly, unconsciousness. Not that I really mean that, but I guess I do.)

Anyhow, so that ultimately is what I believe all graduation speeches have in common -- they are saying, be conscious. And forgive me for being like this, but I will only be this way for
one more second, be conscious.

Okay, now you can go back to the rest of your life. Just like we all do after we hear a graduation speech.