And so they start. The boring graduation addresses. You can't escape them. Even here on California Golden Blogs.
But I want to do something simple for you. I want to thank you. All of you seniors who have included me in your life at Cal. I have had a blast with you. It's been so much fun.
Courtesy Ken Montgomery Private Archives
This is what makes this time we're living in so amazing. Because of technology and particularly social media, if we want, we're able to be friends with people regardless of age, race, sex, station in life, etc... that just wasn't possible when I was your age, or if it was it was a lot more difficult. It's pretty phenomenal so a guy like me gets to be part of the below photo.
Yep, right there in the Bench... no, not the expensive court-side seats in front of the Bench, but there in the middle.. exalting with students is a guy who last saw Cal as a student in 1993. But you know what, it all works because while I may be twice your age (and then some), I have half your maturity level!
Courtesy Ken Montgomery Private Archives
So here's my guide to not getting old. Don't get old. Hang around young people or at least people who are young at heart. Trust me, as people get older they forget what's fun. Don't make that mistake. Let me give you a quick Cal example of that. Last year Sandy Barbour and I were at Hellman. We wanted to catch part of the women's water polo game so we cut through Evans and then we went in to Haas (it's good being with the AD for access to these short cuts!). As we were about to go up the stairs in Haas, Sandy and I looked at each other and without saying a word we SPRINTED UP THE STAIRS in a race. Doesn't matter who won but as we got to the top we cracked up. It's a small thing, but that's what I'm talking about.
This brings me to my main point (and I'll keep this short). I recently went out with some of you and stayed out later than most people my age would - on a Sunday night no less! The next day, the dreaded Monday, I got up in time for my 6:30 AM conference call and just sort of powered through the day and felt fine... and it reminded me that we're supposed to live and not be a slave to routine. I think in general I'm pretty good about that but we need to be reminded sometimes. When our time comes to its end, and it does for all of us, not one of us is going to regret not working more, but you'll definitely regret not living and experiencing life more. I struggled with whether or not I should go out that Sunday night, because, well hell I'm a responsible adult... but i was struggling with the wrong question... And because I went out I'm better for it.
via Ken Montgomery (and no worse for the wear)
One of my favorite movies is Six Degrees of Separation. It's the story about how a young conman comes into some people's life and charms them to the point where they really don't know what to believe. At the end of the movie, at a high society lunch / cocktail party, Stockard Channing's character Ouisa is reflecting on what happened to her and her husband with Paul's (played by Will Smith) entrance into their lives. She has an epiphany and explains it:
But it was
an experience. I will not turn him into an
anecdote. How do we fit what happened to us
into life without turning it into an anecdote
with no teeth and a punch line we'll mouth over
and over for years to come. "Tell the story
about the imposter who came into our lives---"
"That reminds me of the time this boy--". And
we become these human juke boxes spilling out
these anecdotes. But it was an experience. How
do we keep the experience?
And there you have it. To me that's the goal of life.
First having the experience. That's key because so many people don't. They just sort of drift through life going along to get along.
But then, more than that, keeping that experience and keeping it true. Not letting it just become some retread story that you use to just impress people, but something that actually shapes and informs who we are. That's your goal. You folks have been part of my experience and I think it's had its own impact on me. I hope it's had a little on you.
So as I get too deep and sentimental as I'm prone to do as I get older, I'm just thinking about you awesome people, graduating and moving on... You'll get lots of different advice. But when someone tells you you have to do something in such a way or act in a certain way or prioritize in a certain way, or conform... all in order to achieve a goal that people say you should be achieving... When they tell you that, and I'm speaking from experience, as someone who's lived life, who has experienced the highs and the lows but through it all is who he is and where he wants to be, smile and feel sorry for them because they really don't get it.
The Greeks had a word for this, Areté. It's about reaching YOUR highest potential, not what others think it should be.
Go do that.
And Fiat Lux!
Oh, and GO BEARS!