Valedictorian Speech That Will Change Your Life: To the Graduating Class of 2017

Young women and men of the graduating class of 2017:

You are the magic.

You are the one.

You are the magic and the fun.

You are meant to be happy.

You are meant to enjoy your life, before it’s done.

So please, for goodness sake, have fun.

You are a tightly packed pod of living potential. Didn’t you know? You’re waiting to EXPLODE. Your will to believe this about yourself is the most important ingredient in becoming what you want.

Now, then, at last, your real education begins.

Now, at last, comes the process of learning that, one hopes, never ends.

You unfortunately have before you a great many things to unlearn — many things of great concern:

There are dogmas, both secular and non, green, blue, and red, that you will have to shed: false ideas, both secular and non, that school has inculcated into your head.

And yet, and yet …

You possess a powerful weapon — the greatest one in your entire arsenal — and that is your brain.

Think for yourself.

Your thoughts are things, and as such your thoughts are something you can train.

Cultivate thought. Cultivate your living potential. Cultivate your mind. Seek — and if you seek, you will, I promise, find.

I say again: Cultivate deliberate thought.

It is the most precious thing you’ve got.

Human excellence is a thing you develop — as talent is largely developed and learned:

Neither are inborn but earned.

The real secret of discipline is the insight that your values and habits are what you choose them to be.

Did you hear that?

Did you hear me?

Embrace human progress. Embrace technology, whether nano or nuclear, super-elastic, or the prosthetic limbs and artificial hearts and other organs that come from plastic.

Technology has gotten us to this point. Only technology can get us beyond.

The ingenuity of the human mind is limitless. Your mind is your magic wand.

And for enjoying the fruits of your labor and for enjoying the pleasure of technology, you owe no one — and I mean no one — any apology. None whatsoever.

Progress is good. Retrogression is not. Therefore I say: progress forever. For having fun, you owe no apology whatsoever.

Rejoice, oh, you beautiful young human beings, rejoice in your youth — revel in your time — and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth, and walk in the way of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes. But know that there will come a time, as there comes a time for every one of us, when the beauty and power of your youth fades, and you’re left with one thing: it is the most important thing, the most powerful thing you can find:

Your mind.

Your vision of who and what you want to be is among the most very valuable of assets you have. Cultivate, therefore, that vision.

That is your mission. Come at it like a head on collision.

You will no doubt have already been told — and you will, I’m afraid, be told many times more — that genius cannot be taught or learned, that greatness comes from some rarified source: a precious DNA strand.

But I’m hear to say that the diametric opposite is true:

Greatness comes from within — it comes from within you — just as true originality comes from within you too.

Genius in fact can only come from within. It’s in what you think, but also, as important, in what you do.

Yes, you are simultaneously the source and the receiving force.

Because it’s not how talented or how smart you are.

It’s how deep down your desire goes, how high you’re willing to push, how far.

This is why ambition and persistence are the greatest predictors of success.

For this reason you and you alone are … what? Yes:

You are the magic.

You are the one.

You are the magic and the fun.

Your life is like a precious toy. It is meant to be something you enjoy.

Your passions are primarily willed: you mustn’t ever think of passions as something you either have, or not. If you’re interested in something — even if it’s at first only a moderate interest — and if you then pursue that interest, your passion for that thing develops as your understanding of it deepens.

The more time you spend with something, the more your feelings for it grow.

The more your feelings for it grow, the more about that thing you come to know.

Jobs are healthy. Work is good. Work is good for the soul. Nothing more than work is fundamentally necessary for the production of abundance and the good things that make your life pleasurable. Be happy in your work.

Don’t not be cruel. Don’t not be a jerk.

And remember: you are the magic. You are the one.

Your life is meant to be fun.

Your life is your values.

Your values are the things you most enjoy.

The secret key to the lock of life is nothing more — or less — than developing a durable purpose around which to arrange all the other things in your life, and against which all other things you measure and weigh.

This is also what I’ve come to say. This is what I wish to convey:

A central purpose is the unifying factor that molds together the human clay and integrates all the other factors in your life, year-to-year, month-to-month, day-to-day. So that to be in control of your own life, you must build this fundamental purpose, and, once built, you must not let it go.

But why is this so?

Because purpose forms the base and at the same time creates a kind of pyramid, the stones of which are your other desires, arranged in order of importance, which spares you any number of internal clashes and strife.

This great pyramid is your life.

The central purpose that forms its base allows you to enjoy your existence more abundantly, and on the widest conceivable scale.

Young women and men of the graduating class of 2017: the circuit of the seasons is to bud, to blossom, and to die, and no matter what any one you may become, or why — no matter how good or bad or ugly or beautiful or cruel — in the spring of life, you’ve all envisioned a beautiful and brilliant and dazzling future that sits waiting for you — and I’ve come to tell you that that vision, young women and men, is the correct vision:

It is accurate and incontrovertibly true — as true in 2017 as in any culture or era or time or season.

And the only real rebel is the dog who tirelessly sniffs out reason.

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