If I Gave a Commencement Speech

By | August 22, 2013

This previously published post is in honor of the 50th anniversary of MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Graduation tassleI was thinking one day about someday. Someday.

It’s such a far-off and mystical day. Always some time in the future. Often filled with big dreams and plans.

Someday I’m going to learn a foreign language. Someday I’m going to read Alice in Wonderland in French. Someday I’m going to write an article about Lewis Carroll for The Paris Review.

And here’s a familiar one: Someday I’m going to graduate.

I have a note to pause here and allow you to whoop it up and throw your frisbees and caps. Which, of course, you did right on cue. And this proves once again George Bernard Shaw’s line about what is wasted on the young.

This has always bothered me — I see young people at graduations tossing their caps into the air. Your cap and gown are rentals, right? So what happens if you can’t find your cap after that act of reckless abandon? Won’t you have to pay a penalty for not returning it? Doesn’t this concern you? If I were you, I’d be on all fours right now desperately searching for my cap and beloved tassel throughout the rest of this dignified ceremony. But I digress.

I have news for all of you: There is no someday. You didn’t wake up today and yell, “My God, it’s someday! It’s finally here! Hallelujah!”

It’s easy to say you’re going to do something someday. There’s no pressure. No urgency.

When are you going to do that? Oh, someday. OK, so it’s probably not going to happen in my lifetime. No problem.

In MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech, he said, “I have a dream that one day…” He didn’t say, “I have a dream that someday…”

There’s no “someday” in that speech. He said “one day” eight times and “today” nine times. Why did he stress those particular words? And what does this mean to you on your graduation day?

I can tell you to live for today. I can tell you that you do not have all the time in the world. And I can tell you all about my life and those times when I didn’t notice that someday had turned into yesterday, and all that Holden Caulfield kind of crap. But I won’t because it’ll bore you and depress me.

So, by all means, go out and do great things. But don’t tell me you’re going to find a solution for global warming, someday. Because we need it today. And I do mean, today!

In the meantime, have fun, ignore the elderly, overuse exclamation points, and try to believe at least one impossible thing before lunch everyday.

And have a great someday!