USA Today lists the ten best graduation commencement speeches. Here are my favorite highlights…

Steve Jobs @ Stanford, 2005: Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

David Foster Wallace @ Kenyon, 2005: There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”

Earl Bakken, University of Hawaii, 2004: By all reckoning, the bumblebee is aerodynamically unsound and shouldn’t be able to fly. Yet, the little bee gets those wings going like a turbo-jet and flies to every plant its chubby little body can land on to collect all the nectar it can hold. Bumblebees are the most persistent creatures. They don’t know they can’t fly, so they just keep buzzing around.

Lesson learned from USA Today’s list?

1) there are no good graduation speeches prior to the year 2000.

2) everything is hard. suck it up.

3) hard work = rewards. though i hear my internal bullshit radar beeping here. yes, some people work hard and earn their rewards. some people don’t, and earn their rewards. that’s life. it’s all a crapshoot. but that is no reason to cry and despair. make the best of what you have. and see what happens.

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