An honor and a privilege
I didn't sleep much the night of May 21. I kept thinking about the speech I had to deliver on the evening of the next day, and I couldn't shut my mind off.
A couple of months ago Karleen Bianco, the Principal at Lighthouse High School came to me while I was sitting in a Carbon Board of Education meeting and asked me if I would give the commencement address for the school's graduation on May 22.
I was actually stunned. I have done a lot of public speaking in my life, but no one had ever asked me to do a commencement address. So basically, on the night before I was really nervous.
I kept questioning myself, and if the speech I had put together would be good enough for such an occasion.
I got up that night and tweaked it again and again. I cut some, added some and reviewed other pieces.
Would these be the right things to say? Should it be really serious or should it have some, at least, attempted humor in it? How could I honor these students, who had worked for 13 of their 18 years to get through school and do it correctly?
I went to work tired on the morning of May 22. I worked on things for this very paper that day and then my mind drifted off to what would take place at 5 p.m. that night. Would my speech be a mess? Was the material right for the graduates I was facing?
By 2 p.m. I was dead in my chair at the office. I went home and told my wife I needed a nap before we left.
In laid down and fell asleep and before I knew she was in the room telling me it was 4 p.m.
It was time to get ready and go.
While driving to the school I went over what I was going to say in my head again and again. I changed this and I changed that. And I knew once I got in front of the audience, I would change things on the fly too. That's the way I speak when I am in front of a crowd.
It was a great responsibility telling 18 year olds what they may face in the world and how to deal with it. In fact, while I am over 40 years older than them, I still am not sure I know about the world.
But I got through it and it appeared with some success. No one threw me out of the place or hung me from the rafters.
I hope it was meaningful; where each graduate took away something of use.
I expected to sleep well that night, but I didn't. I laid awake thinking about the things I had done right, but more about the points I had missed, the things I intended to say but didn't.
I do know this however. For me it was an honor and a privilege to give that address, and to be trusted to do so.
Good luck graduates.