Who doesn’t love themselves a good graduation speech? Like an inspiring sermon, sans the sometimes awkwardness of religion, plus more ceremony and uplift. You get to hear a thoughtful person tell you the best stories and lessons of their life, in the most punchy and succinct way they can manage.
Among my favorites are David Brooks’s at Dartmouth on the importance of commitments, George Saunders’s at Syracuse on the failures of kindness, and I can’t leave out David Foster Wallace at Kenyon College: “This is water. This is water.”
To that list I’ve now added Jim Carrey at Maharishi. The speech is like a medley of his greatest acting hits: profound, personal, peculiar, and very funny.
Here are some of my favorite bits:
I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
You can spend your whole life imagining ghosts, worrying about your pathway to the future, but all there will ever be is what’s happening here, and the decisions we make in this moment, which are based in either love or fear.
So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality.
My father used to brag that I wasn’t a ham — I was the whole pig. And he treated my talent as if it was his second chance. When I was about 28, after a decade as a professional comedian, I realized one night in LA that the purpose of my life had always been to free people from concern, like my dad. When I realized this, I dubbed my new devotion, “The Church of Freedom From Concern” — “The Church of FFC”— and I dedicated myself to that ministry.
You can join the game, fight the wars, play with form all you want, but to find real peace, you have to let the armor fall. Your need for acceptance can make you invisible in this world.
I’ve often said that I wished people could realize all their dreams of wealth and fame so they could see that it’s not where you’ll find your sense of completion.
No matter what you gain, ego will not let you rest. It will tell you that you cannot stop until you’ve left an indelible mark on the earth, until you’ve achieved immortality. How tricky is the ego that it would tempt us with the promise of something we already possess.