Maybe it’s just me, but I think most commencement speeches fail because the greater number of listeners will do just fine in the world sinceâ€”unlike the more philosophical speaker…unless he or she is a captain of industry or similar WANT-TAKE-HAVE typeâ€”they’re individuals who don’t over-think the mechanism of life. They live without any real hesitation, because they’ve broken it down into a simple process. You get a job, possibly get married and have kids, go on vacation once in a while, take up a hobby, and watch a lot of TV.
I’m not saying there’s anything necessarily wrong with that, at all. I admire its simplicity. Most folks aren’t designed to change the world. Also, I wish to God I could do likewise and stop thinking, “Jesus H., isn’t there something MORE to all of this? How can I solve everyone’s problems before I die? And why the hell do I have to die anyway? God and man! Death and life! The unavoidable yawning void! Etc. etc. etc.”
That David Foster Wallace speech/video that’s been making the rounds perfectly illustrates my point. I’d guess 85 percent of the young folks Wallace addressed just nodded, said “Yeah, I should be more open to my fellow humans and junk,” and then moved on to just live.
Meanwhile, Wallace took a short drop into eternity.