I remember it every now and then, and wonder how much of the advice I gave I actually followed. I feel vaguely hypocritical. But some of it I think I have held to. And it's all generally good advice, even if I haven't followed it as well as I should have.
It's full of ludicrous Sunilisms, Jack Handey's Deep Thoughts, and inside jokes that none of you will get.
I think people liked my speech. My mom complained that I spoke too fast, and maybe I did, but of course she had to complain about something.
After the ceremony, when we were picking up our diplomas and whatnot, Sue Alice came up to me and said (and I misquote until the last two words), "Sunil, I loved your speech. A lot of people probably didn't get it, but it was so you."
And I'll always remember that, because it was just about the best compliment I could have gotten about it.
I know that the people who know me have come to expect a degree of oddity from me, but I assure you that backwards speech my giving be not will I. In fact, my speech is pretty normal...well, as normal as you can expect from me.
Finally, we’re all going to be turned loose upon the world, practically free to do whatever we want. Is that a scary thought or what? For the world, I mean. The world needn't worry, though, because we have received the best high school education the United States has to offer. We've been trained well. That doesn't mean you’re ready to face life, though. I’ve still got some good tips for you.
Every good speech needs a weird analogy, and, although this speech may not be good, it has one. Be like Gumby. Gumby is very flexible, and he’s green. Well, you don’t have to do the green part, but be flexible. When life deals you lemons, make lemonade. And what if life deals you apples? Make apple juice...or apple pie, or apple cider, or, well, you get the picture. Always work with what you have rather than wanting something else. Be creative. Think out of the box. And while you're at it, think out of the trapezoid. Instead of a trap door, what about a trap window? The guy looks out it, and if he leans too far, he falls out. Wait. I guess that's like a regular window. And don't ever settle for less than what you think you can do. I've got high hopes for every single one of you....except you, there in the back. Just kidding. Always challenge yourself. In fact, it's a good idea to set impossible goals for yourself. In the back of your mind, you really doubt you can accomplish them. I plan to either win a Nobel Prize in Chemistry or find a cure for cancer, whichever comes first. Or both. Obviously, these are pretty lofty aspirations. The thing about an impossible goal is that if you don’t achieve it, you don’t feel that bad. But if you do, then, well, it wasn't really an impossible goal at all, now was it? So, that totally ruins my point. Anyway, graduates, throughout life remember to strive, to seek, to find, and to have a friend named Pokey.
Actually, I had another weird analogy that went something like this: "To me, boxing is like a ballet, except there's no music, no choreography, and the dancers hit each other." But I really couldn't relate that to anything, so I was supposed to cut it out, but I guess I forgot. So another good tip is: don’t forget things.
If I learned anything in high school, it was that my brain is too full of other information to be able to hold my schedule, too. I think everyone should get one of those daily planner things and write everything down in it. Even write "Brush teeth" and "Put on clothes" because eventually you'll start forgetting everything. Procrastination is a very bad thing. Procrastination has caused me to think that if the day weren’t only twenty-four hours long, maybe I'd get more work done. Daily planners’ll solve that problem.
Make sure to read. That's what your eyes are for. Well, actually, they're there for a lot of other reasons, but that just sounded good. Reading will make you smarter, trust me. Oh, and be sure to read Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain because Mrs. Davis, who’s read every book ever written, thinks it's the best book ever, so it’s probably pretty good...from a literary standpoint, that is. Plus, you'll be able to make obscure allusions that no one will understand. The more you read, the more obscure you can get. Also, make sure to write. If you're just thinking, and you dream up this story about, say, a "Polter-Cow," sit down and write it. Leave your mark on the world. Writing is the best way to express yourself, and expressing yourself is a good thing, right? But don’t write "Express yourself" in your daily planner. It'll make you sound like a Madonna fan.
When you get to college, those who are going, just remember that those calculators you have—they do more than play Tetris. I think they also, like, calculate or something. Ah, college. College will be a totally new experience. Remember all those "tardies" we were so worried about? Well, college professors don't even care if you skip class altogether! But you probably should go anyway. You might learn something. And don’t be surprised at how much supposed "Free Time" you have, either. That time isn't free. Your parents are probably shelling out big bucks for that time, so you better do something with it. This is where that daily planner might come in handy. Just pencil in 4:00 to 4:01 for "Fun" and study the rest of the time. Schedule in some sleep, too. I heard sleep's pretty good. I wouldn't know. I haven’t had much of it this year.
And now here are a few things I would like to tell everyone that might help later in life:
Everybody is not free to wear sunscreen.
If you’re ever in a rental Suburban, don't put your seatbelt in places it doesn’t belong.
Be kind to your fellow human being.
If you're ever selling your house, and some people come by, and a big rat comes out and he's dragging the rat trap because it didn't quite kill him, just tell the people he's your pet and that's a trick you taught him.
Tomorrow is just two days away from becoming yesterday.
If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door.
Never be too proud to ask for help.
If you see a herd of stampeding elephants coming in your direction, it's best to get out of the way.
Writing a speech is not as easy as it sounds. And before you start criticizing my speech, just remember that I wrote it on the way here. I really need to get one of those daily planners.
Now for the "thank you's"—-thank you to the extraordinary faculty of Lamar for giving us a strong base for our future; thank you to the parents for encouraging us and sticking by us throughout the years; thank you to all the friends and relatives who have come here from other cities, states, countries, and/or planets just to see us walk across this stage. Oh, and thank you to the janitors for cleaning up the underclassmen’s mess so that we could have a clean walkway between classes.
Well, about now the music should start to run me off the stage. I've heard that it's a tradition for the salutatorian to say "May the Force be with you," and I know it's timely, but I'm just not going to say—-oh, darn. Now I want everyone to think of their favorite quote-—it doesn’t matter where it comes from—-just think of the quote that defines you, the quote I should say. Okay, do you have a quote in your head? I leave you with that quote. Well, actually, I don't. I leave you with the words of Andy Warhol: "They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself." So, "Change things." Stick that in your daily planner.