Anyone else humming the tune from the musical Avenue Q? Has anyone seen that show? I have seen it twice and love it! I would see it again in a heartbeat. Actually, quick story about the first time I saw it - I had just moved to NYC after college and was searching for a job (in book publishing at the time) after making it through my first week I decided to treat myself. On a Friday night I went to the theater and stood in the cancellation line. All the people right up through the front of me got a ticket. It got to me and nothing. Then the people who I had made friends with standing in front of me came back up to me and asked if I wanted to buy one of theirs because their friend couldn't make it after all. Did I? You bet! And for $50? That's like a steal for a Friday night on Broadway. I was in heaven. And so the show began
"What do you do with a B.A. in English,
What is my life going to be?"
Yes parts of it are risque and sure they are poking at some p.c. things, but there's also some things to think about.
What really got me thinking about this was when I read a commencement speech today that was delivered by Conan O'Brien. Again there was a lot of humor in it, but when he got down to the seriousness of it. it made you stop and think:"Nietzsche famously said 'Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.' But what he failed to stress is that it almost kills you. Disappointment stings and, for driven, successful people like yourselves it is disorienting. What Nietzsche should have said is 'Whatever doesn't kill you, makes you watch a lot of Cartoon Network and drink mid-price Chardonnay at 11 in the morning.'
Your path at 22 will not necessarily be your path at 32 or 42. One's dream is constantly evolving, rising and falling, changing course. This happens in every job,
In 2000—in 2000—I told graduates to not be afraid to fail, and I still believe that. But today I tell you that whether you fear it or not, disappointment will come. The beauty is that through disappointment you can gain clarity, and with clarity comes conviction and true originality.Many of you here today are getting your diploma at this Ivy League school because you have committed yourself to a dream and worked hard to achieve it. And there is no greater cliché in a commencement address than "follow your dream." Well I am here to tell you that whatever you think your dream is now, it will probably change. And that's okay. Four years ago, many of you had a specific vision of what your college experience was going to be and who you were going to become. And I bet, today, most of you would admit that your time here was very different from what you imagined. Your roommates changed, your major changed. But through the good and especially the bad, the person you are now is someone you could never have conjured."
Here is a link to the speech in its entirety if you are interested. I blog about this because I know this summer we all reflect as teachers and as people - what can we change? what can we do better? how can we make our teaching better; our lives simpler? Of course, some of us are still figuring out what our paths will be (myself included) as the fall brings uncertainty with it - where will we teach? what grade do we prepare for?
I know it makes it a little easier with a community of creative bloggers and to remember the words from Avenue Q: "Everything in life is only for now," the words from Conan (posted above), and the words from my own commencement speaker after telling us of a near death experience (interestingly enough I have tried for years to get a full transcript of his speech, and I just learned he passed away 3 months ago): "“understood with great clarity that nothing in life, except death itself, was ever going to kill me. No meeting could ever go that badly. No client would ever be that angry. No business error would ever bring me as close to the brink as I had already been.”