A powerful address by this teacher to the graduating class and it seems many others think so too for this speech has gone viral and the subject of many a blog post. It seems to me to awaken / jar some of us from our slumber, warm the hearts of some of us older folks and inspire us towards some sanity and depth as a culture.
One of the jarring statements for me was we are a culture in search of accolade instead of actual achievement. This really shouldn't surprise us - after all we have created a culture of consumers - we consume vast quantities of many things, electronics, food, and people - we see everything as a means to one end - our happiness. Not that happiness is a bad thing - I just think culturally we have been sold a bill of goods - that we can buy happiness but in the morning-after of economic boom and orgies of indiscriminate consumption - we awake next to something that looked so hot the night before but in the light of day is so much less than we had hoped, so much less than we need.
I think the quality of living, of a life well lived is found not just within ourselves but outside of ourselves in pursuits bigger than ourselves. Things that by their very nature impact others for the good and therefore have a life-giving transcendence, far beyond the moment, long after the trophy has been put in a box and stored in the attic, the money has been spent and the latest gadget has become yesterdays news.
I think, for me anyways, for life to be truly deep and fulfilling we need to look to that which is beyond our mere fulfilment - in making the lives of others better in some way - more beautiful, more peaceful, more dignified, more inclusive, more merciful, and more loving. To embrace what we love, do what we love and do it with excellence and integrity. The accolades will come but I betcha almost anything in this new light - the shiny plastic trophies of our narcissistic culture will pale in comparison to the deep personal realization of a life well lived.
Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself?
As I end, I am thinking of a stained glass window. How lovely it looks to me as the morning sun shines in to my room through it. But I have seen that same window at night and it really has no splendor unless the light shines from the inside out.