In 1997, Mary Schmich, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune, wrote a commencement speech that, according to her, she would have given had she been asked. Later, the Australian film director, Baz Luhrmann, took her essay in its entirety (with her permission) and transformed it into a spoken word song that became a hit single in 1999. (Note: a version of this song is available to download for free on Freegal)
I was in my red Honda Civic in 1999 stalled at that metaphorical fork in the road when I first heard this masterpiece on FM radio. When that song came on, I found my body synchronizing to the beat. I sobbed, cackled and levitated against my will. Mary Schmich had given me permission to throw all caution to the wind so I took her advice. In the dead of winter, I lathered up on sunscreen and slalomed through the slush.
Graduates, this is a long-winded way of saying that at this pivotal moment in your life, in the middle of a pandemic, you will be bombarded by advice. Stay alert. Listen deeply. The wisest words may be delivered to you in an unconventional form from the unlikeliest of sources.
Whatever journey you are on or about to begin, may it be fruitful and full of joy. Congratulations and don’t forget to wear sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher).
Now, allow me to dispense my own advice by letting these book titles speak their wisdom. (Note: click on the title if you’d like to place them on hold)