tidbits to remember

One of my favorite items to peruse in procrastination:
commencement speeches.

This one given by Helen Mirren does not disappoint. Here are the highlights. (Click here to read the entire speech.)

What are you doing to make your next day better today?
How are you procrastinating?
Happy Sunday!

[... You are] seniors about to enter the even more uncertain world of adulthood. Hello cell phone bills, hello rent, hello car insurance, hello office politics, hello Netflix subscriptions, hello ambition, hello disappointment, and hello to the nerve-wracking yet heady moments when nothing goes to plan…and also hello to those rare but more exciting and headier moments when something does actually go to plan.

Some of you have a clear idea of a plan and where  adulthood will take you. You have known since you were 5 years old. Others of you have no idea, but don't worry, both ways work.  My nephew left school at 16, became a bartender in London and then a plasterer and finished up as a successful writer in Hollywood. I did not go to drama school, as I very much wanted to, but instead went to a teachers training college, where I didn't want to go. We both, my nephew and I,  ended up where we were supposed to be.  

The trick is to listen to your instinct,  grab the opportunity when it presents itself, and then give it your all. You will stumble and fall, you will experience both disaster and triumph, sometimes in the same day, but it's really important to remember that like a hangover, neither triumphs nor disasters last forever, they both pass and a new day arrives. Just try to make that new day count.

Helen’s Top 5 rules for a happy life. [...]
Number Two – just treat people like people.  A long, long time ago, an actress friend of mine did the most simple thing that taught me a huge lesson. We were in the backseat of a car being driven to the location where we were filming, and she was a smoker, in the prehistoric days when you could smoke in a car, and she got her cigarettes out and before she lit up, she offered the driver one. So simple, but, you know? Thoughtful. To her he wasn't a “driver person,” but a “person person” who might want a smoke. Today she would probably be arrested for attempted murder but that’s a lesson I never forgot, and I am grateful to my actress friend to this day.  So, remember that every single person, whether they have dominion over your life or not, deserves equal respect and generosity. 

And an addendum to rule #2.  No matter what sex you are, or race, be a feminist. In every country and culture that I have visited, from Sweden to Uganda, from Singapore to Mali, it is clear that when women are given respect, and the ability and freedom to pursue their personal dreams and ambitions, life improves for everyone. I didn't define myself as a feminist until quite recently but I had always lived like a feminist and believed in the obvious: that women were as capable and as energetic and as inspiring as men. But to join a movement called feminism seemed too didactic, too political.  However, I have come to understand that feminism is not an abstract idea but a necessity if we--and really by “we,” I mean you guys--are to move us forward and not backward into ignorance and fearful jealousy. So now I am a declared feminist and I would encourage you to be the same. 
Oh, and addendum to the addendum--never again allow a group of  old, rather grumpy, rich white men define the health care of a country that is 50.8 % women and 37% other races. 

Okay, back to the rules.

Three --Ignore anyone who judges the way you look, especially if he or she is some anonymous creep lurking on the Internet. And if you are that person lurking on the Internet -- STOP IT, just stop it, go outside and DO something. 

Number Four -- don't be afraid of fear. Those words bring me back to my grammar school and our headmistress, Mother Mary Mildred, an ancient Nun—is there any other type?--with one drooping eyelid and a lifetime lived behind the walls of a convent.  She said those words to me the moment I walked into her class, a trembling 11-year-old about to enter high school. 60 years later and I will never forget those words or that teacher. I think what she meant was, don't let fear rule you. Now, mind you, sometimes it's wise to be afraid, like when you are about to take a dive into a pool with not enough water in it. Or drive a car drunk.  In moments like those -- be afraid, be very afraid and absolutely don't do it. And if you want more information on this please visit a paraplegic ward. But for the moments when you are challenged by other fears – like “Am I good enough?” “Am I smart enough?” “Will I fail?” – throw caution to the winds, look fear straight-away in its ugly face, and barge forward.  And when you get past it, turn around and give it a good swift kick in the ass. And thank Mother Mary Mildred. 


And parents – and I know this is where my speech gets serious -- please know that however much your children can shock and horrify you, it’s all in the natural order of things. 

My parents’ generation were born at the end of one World War, survived a global economic meltdown, and then fought a second World War. And of course, for their heroic efforts they were rewarded by my generation deciding to reject everything they stood for. 

And you know what? We weren't altogether wrong. 

The young never are, because they carry intrinsically within them the energy and idealism that will regenerate human life on this planet as it hurtles through time and space. 

And we do need you to fix things, to make things right, to answer the big and troubling questions of this extraordinary modern world. 

How is it that we have figured out how to put everything from our resting pulse rate to every book or song we’d ever want to read or listen to on our iPhones – and yet for six years we haven’t found a way to stop little children in Syria from being murdered by poisonous gas? 

How is it that we have taken diseases like AIDS and turned them into manageable viruses controlled by revolutionary drugs – and yet we look around the world and see millions of people displaced – without homes – more than at any time since after World War II – suffering in teeming refugee camps?

And how is it that we have more billionaires under the age of 40 than ever before – and yet we know that the ravages of poverty which America witnessed here in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina still linger not far from the magnificence of today’s commencement?

And that’s where you guys come in. We’re counting on you.  We’re counting on you to be our “Generation Empathy” – our “Generation Cares” …our “Generation Gamechangers”.

That’s how I see your generation –as empathetic, caring, gamechangers--but also as one that is radical, brave, and often making trouble.  And I hope you’ll never stop because you are doing the right things at the right time at the right age.  
Simply put--your decisions, based on your instincts, are pretty well inevitably correct. 


When I was on my journey through young adulthood, in that glorious and confusing time that was the early 1970’s, I looked in a lot of different places for answers - -eastern, western, and all over the place.

And when I found one inspiring answer in Mayan wisdom that said so much in so few words, I had it tattooed on my left hand.

It’s a simple phrase: “Inlakesh.”

It means:

“You are my other self
We are one
I am Another Yourself”

The Mayans were on to something. 

Because if I’m you – I have a responsibility to you. If you’re me – you have a responsibility to me. 

The Mayans just had a more beautiful way of saying “we’re all in this together.” 

We’re all in this together—remember that, so that you can make some sense out of and fix this crazy, crazy world. 
I know you’ll do it. I know that the world you will build will be so very, very different from that world my parents envisioned. A smart phone to them would have been as alien as a little green man from Mars. For you, it is just the starting point of the tools that will be at your disposal to fix all that is broken.  Robotics, computer intelligence, medical advances, the constant restless search for knowledge, your lives will be exciting, revelatory, awesome, in the truest sense of that word. 
And yet the timeless truths of our common humanity, the ones that Shakespeare, Confucius, Moses, Christ, your grandparents and the Mayans understood, those truths will never change. 
You are me and I am you.
So just remember the words we talked about today – in Larkish. 

via {tulane}


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