To the Class of 2009

Benjamin Button: [Voice over; letter to his daughter] For what it's worth: it's never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There's no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you're proud of. If you find that you're not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.

Dear Graduating Class of 2009,

Had a college or high school, shucks even an elementary school, invited me to give their commencement speech, I would have gladly accepted. I'd of put on a tie even. But no one asked. Therefore, I'm writing you a letter which you will probably never see. However, there is a sliver of a chance you might for I now have 14 blog followers, that's two more than Jesus had, and sometimes followers can spread the word. Sometimes.

Here is my advice, boiled down to three little words, as you step across your particular threshold: Choose your life.

There will be days when life will choose for you. You will wake up feeling weak and the doctor will whisper cancer. You'll get a phone call that Mama died. Your company will downsize leaving no room for you. The note on the kitchen table will read I've fallen out of love with you - goodbye. There will be days like that; such is the way of this life on this planet.

But there will be other days, maybe just as many if not more, when life will say Choose. The reins will slack enough so that you can choose the next direction or the next word or the next bite. Each and every day we make decisions either for or against the precious life we've been given. Phrases like well, whatever or I really don't care are not acceptable; they are the words of a coward. There are plenty of cowards who are alive, but it's only the brave who are living.

Yes, there are consequences to every choice, but I'm afraid we sometimes focus so much on what the consequences might be that we strip away the absolute rush in the veins that comes from being able to make the choice. It's like missing the questions for the answers and questions, at least in this life, are why we keep getting up in the morning. The questions always come first; they are the dew on the morning.

You need to know, if you don't already, that people will try and make your choices for you. Sometimes, oftentimes, these are the people closest to you. As you choose your life, be firm but not mean. It takes a while to learn how to do that, maybe a long, long time, but it's worth figuring out how to do. If you hurt some people, often those closest to you, as you learn this, then you can choose to say I'm sorry or not. The choice is yours. But as for the meanness, remember this: There's no excuse for being an asshole. I thought about saying that differently, but I chose to say it in a way you'd remember. And hopefully you will.

So there you have it: Choose your life. Congratulations on getting to this point. Whether by hook or by crook, you've made it this far. Where and how you go from here is not entirely up to you, but you get to have a say in it. You really do. I hope you make the best of it.



  1. from a 2009 college grad, thank-you.

    the bit about 'choice' is important even though that may just be the scariest thing about graduating; for the most part, it's a new feeling to have choices when it comes to major life decisions.

  2. John, what's your last name? This blog post sounded positively John Eldredge-like. I loved it!

  3. James,
    Thanks for your words. I'm John Blase (rhymes with daze). My blogsite is www.thedirtyshame.blogspot.com.


  4. Every man dies, not every man really lives.

    --William Wallace in Braveheart

  5. from a 2009 high school grad, thank you

  6. I appreciated this succinct, realistic word more than the 20-minute speech from the independent party candidate for Minnesota governor, at the University of Minnesota commencement ceremony last week.