Monday, May 27, 2013

To The Graduating Class of 2013: You Must Be Present To Win!

Have you been to one of those events, programs, or grand openings which, upon registering, you receive a chance to win a door prize? Perhaps you’ve noticed the italicized print at the bottom of the ticket and sign..."Must be present to win". Sponsors want the patrons to experience the whole event. They don’t want the patron to miss anything, most of all the grand finale, the closing, the climax. This “Must be present to win!” is fundamental to living a life of significance. There have been some notable graduation speeches in which the “Must be present to win!” tagline applies.

- Steve Jobs to the Stanford graduates in 2005 said ...
    “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

Jobs was right. Been there. Done that. Got the connect-the-dots-artwork in my life. Yet people yearn to find a good fortune teller. There is money to be made in future forecasting and predicting trends. People still refer to Nostradamus. Yet Christ told his followers, only the Father knows what the future holds (Matt 24:36). You are what you believe. The real danger in your beliefs is absolute certainty. Absolute certainty creates so many problems for living a life of significance. Absolute certainty will suck the life out of you. Take the advice Andy gives Red in the 1994 movie, Shawshank Redemption, “Get busy living or get busy dying.” Great case for, “Must be present to win!”

Ellen DeGeneres to the graduates of Tulane in 2009 said ...
    “The definition of success changes. Success is to live your life with integrity and not to give into peer pressure to be something you are not. ... never follow some else’s path;   unless you’re in trouble in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path, then by all means, you should follow that.”

On the other hand, Ellen doesn’t take herself too seriously. She can laugh at herself. Laughter and humor are essential to “Must be present to win!” You will experience grief and laughter is the only cure.

- David Foster Wallace to the graduates of Kenyon College 2005 said ...
       “You can stand in that supermarket line, surrounded by irritating, equally bored people and if you want, you can imagine them beautiful or gentile or helpless - even it they’re not. You have the choice. Your education gives you the option to see things from several perspectives. You can call it delusional. Or you can call it hope. Or you can call it a form of pain relief from your own pain. Whatever you call it, with it, you are unshackled ... a chance to fly free. (Watch, “This is Water” at

I was blessed to hear David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech in person at Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio, in May of 2005. I didn’t recognize the real wisdom of this commencement address until I went back to read and reread it. Wallace’s comments are the ultimate, “Must be present to win!” We are the richest nation on earth not because of resources, things, geography, history or successes. We are rich because we have choice. This is the central point in Wallace’s address. Everyday begins with a choice of how you want to be experienced, what kind of attitude you want to put on, how you will treat others and a further array of choices! Choose wisely so you can continue “Must be present to win!”

- David Brooks to the graduates of Sewanee 2013 said ...
    “The third thing not to worry about is the question: Will I find my passion? Commencement speakers are always telling you to find your passion. This is the biggest load of crap old people have ever foisted on the young. No, you will not find your passion. Your passion will find you. Relax and wait for it."

Two things about Brook’s wisdom. Worry is a total waste of energy. Worry will keep you from “Must be present to win!” Worry removes you from the present and puts you into the realm of shame and fear. Fear is the absence of love. For love to happen and grow, “Must be present to win!”

Second, Brooks is right on when he says your passion will find you. I’ve met a lot of people searching for their purpose in life. What is more important is to remember your purpose! When you remember your purpose, your passion will show up. When your passion shows up, you are present to experience your whole life!

1 comment:

Carrpe Diem! said...

Here is a link to another memorable commencement address.