June 6, 2011

Well, we made it. Many of us have spent the past thirteen years working our way through the Reading Public Schools, and today is the day we move on to a new adventure. Together, we have experienced the globalization of the world, the virtualization of friendship, and congo bars. Together, we have grown, seated, for the most part comfortably, in the branches of a tree. We have navigated twisted branches, persisted through rough bark, and basked on shining leaves. Today is the day we leap from this tree and soar into the sky. In the future, there will be new trees in which we will safely land—trees that now are unknown—but today, this is our time to fly free into the air.

Today, we move on to boundless opportunity. We don’t yet really know what it is that we’re leaving behind, and we have no idea what’s actually ahead of us. Right now, we are the most unteathered we may ever be. Right now, as we graduate high school, William Shakespeare would tell us that it’s time we “embrace the unsubstantial air.” At this very moment, we are faced with both everything and nothing. We’re moving on to something unknown. We don’t know where we will be ten years from now, what we’ll be doing, who we will have become, or what we’ll even look like. But it is in this expanse of the unknown, this open, free air that we can have and be anything and everything we have ever dreamed of. All we have to do is let ourselves.

With a life full of endless possibilities in front of you, you may look to the future as something wild, something mysterious, something you can’t control or predict. While it can be intimidating, you must know that this is where the true beauty of the future lies. The future is a place where you can allow yourself to be lost and to be reborn.

We shouldn’t be afraid of the uncertainty, but rather should embrace the semi-lucidity of what we can or cannot see of the future. The poet Allen Ginsberg gave beautiful and important advice for people standing before such a vast expanse. He said, “Follow your inner moonlight. Don’t hide your madness.” In the evening sky, you can discover your true moonlight. You can create your own identity and design your own life. Sometimes, you just have to be willing to let yourself go. Let yourself float in the air. And let yourself be as uncontrollably mad as you please.

Too often do we allow structure, logic, and rationality to rule our lives. We tell ourselves, “no,” or, “not now,” or, “Who do you think you’re kidding?” Instead, tell yourself whatever you want to hear, even if you have to lie. “This is your moment” to tell yourself that you are free to be whoever or whatever you desire and to let every dream inside of you come bursting to life, no matter what. Construct your lie, your fantasy, to the most outrageous of proportions and limit only the things that hold you back. Because one day, you’ll wake up, and your lie will have become the truth. If there ever was a time to let reason fly away, it’s now. In our fantasy, we can discover what is truly important to us, what inspires us, what moves us, and there we will find what we love.

Let yourself surrender to fantasy, to the unknown, to the opportunities that the future holds, and to your inner moonlight. Then, the world will simply follow, and the earth will grow a new branch for you to land on. In the words of a person who has certainly found herself in a number of different trees, Lady Gaga proclaims “free yourselves and celebrate.” I think each of us has earned a little freedom, and I know we all deserve a big celebration. After all, we’re about to receive our high school diplomas. Not bad.

Of course, I would be remiss to act like we did this on our own, to neglect this opportunity to thank all those who have guided our course to flight. Personally, I would like to thank every person who has helped me to be standing here, the person who I am today, whether they know it or not. Thank you to every single person who has influenced, inspired, supported, and loved each and every member of the Class of 2011. You’ve helped us grow, change, learn, and now, “you’ll watch as we revise the world.”

Class of 2011, let’s all take this opportunity to live our dreams and not let anyone, even ourselves, tell us that we can’t. Together for the last time, let’s all take a deep breath and leap into a world where we can have anything we’ve ever wanted, as long as we just let ourselves fly.



5 Responses to “valedictory?”

  1. Stevachu Says:

    I almost put my paws up at the end of this speech.

  2. Cinzia Says:

    This was a wonderful speech Mark.

  3. alejandra Says:

    “this is your moment.”

  4. i am obsessed with this.

  5. maarkm Says:

    Thank you all! =]

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