Inspired by my friend sending me a very flattering photo of myself giving my graduation speech, I looked up the speech itself and thought I’d post it here for anyone who is interested:
“After several hours of deep concentration I believe I have found what it is I would like to say before we all venture off into the real world; and that is nothing. I simply have nothing to say. Throughout the duration of our academic careers, we have all undoubtedly received countless words of advice from those who feel they have found the key to a happy and successful life. But when I think back to those who have given me advice over the years, I believe it was those who said the least whose words stuck with me the most.
A man of few words, my swim coach Don Kimble, has always stressed the importance of finding what works for each individual to prepare for an important event because there is no universal form of preparation that guarantees success in the pool or in life. He also reminds his athletes there is nothing anyone can say that can replace the effort one must put forth in order to triumph.
A man of many words, my father Joe Tremml, always had something to say to anyone who would listen. However, it was what he chose not to say in his final days on earth that spoke to me the loudest. Last January, his long battle with lung cancer was coming to an end. Having seen it in the movies, I fully expected one final conversation in which we would say goodbye and he would share with me how to deal with his absence in my life. Except, it never happened. In the end, he had nothing to say. Looking back, I believe this was because he knew nothing he could say would help me through what I had to face in the coming months and years of my life.
At an early age, adults advise their kids to always be prepared for whatever tomorrow may bring. However, many come to find it to be foolish to spend life preparing for what lies ahead instead of living in the moment. For as the French writer and philosopher Voltaire observed, “it is the danger least expected that soonest comes to us.” Nothing anyone can say will ever prepare us for the roadblocks placed on the paths of our lives. It is inevitable that we will all face a number of struggles in the years to come. At some point in time, despair, destruction, and death will enter our lives. And within each setback lies a personal struggle unique to each individual person. A struggle that no one can overcome other than the person it is challenging.
If there is one thing I have learned, however, it is that nothing in this world can defeat the good in life. We can all rest assured that despite facing several difficult times in the years to come, there is an infinite amount of happiness that also lies ahead of us. Among setbacks and struggles, death and destruction, hardships and broken hearts there will always be something to smile about. Whether it be a memory of your time spent at Holland High or simply a smile from an unfamiliar face, nothing can overpower the desire to find happiness. Despite the many things this world has to offer, no possession can ever outweigh the gift of life itself and nothing can overcome the joy that life brings to us each and every day.
As I am sure many of the adults in the audience tonight can tell you, people rarely remember what is said at graduation. However, I hope you will take what I have said with as you begin the next phase of your lives. This should be an easy task, since I have really said nothing at all other than best of luck and I love you all.”
(I was unaware I looked this terrifying….good to know)