I would like to start by asking anyone and everyone to take out their digital recording devices and to do me the favour of recording this speech. It will be a brief moment in time, but since my family couldn’t make it out here today from Southern Ontario, I would very much appreciate being able to capture and communicate these words to them. Also, smile. Take photo of audience.
As an usher at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts I have attended several convocations. If I have learned anything from repeatedly viewing young bright minds receive recognition of their academic achievements, it is that all graduation speeches require a quote from a doctor. Usually, this is Dr. Seuss, and usually the speaker attempts to draw out some great cosmic meaning from the words of Oh, the Places You’ll Go. I will not be
quoting Dr. Seuss. Instead I will quote from a different doctor - the Doctor in fact - Doctor Who.
People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective view point it’s more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey . . . stuff.
This is my third graduation from a post-secondary institution. I never intended to graduate three times, quite the opposite, in fact. I expected, as I’m sure many of you did, that my life would be a direct line of school --> graduation --> work --> retirement. But, as the Doctor tells us, you never can be sure of where or when you will end up. It is important to remember that today, this convocation, is not an ending to, but rather the beginning of - or, even better, a continuation of - your life. Learning doesn’t stop just because you receive a piece of paper, rather than paper should be the key to opening a door to more paper, more experiences, more . . . wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff. Learning opportunities exist behind every door, around every bend, and at every point in your own personal timelines. Don’t let this be the last day you learn, but let the tools you have acquired here propel you to acquire new and interesting information.
In 1989 Robin Williams instilled this very sentiment into his young charges and members of the Dead Poets’ Society. Carpe diem, he says, seize the day . . . because we are food for worms, lads.” Many of my classmates, both present and absent, took this to heart. I have attended classes with people under 20 and over 40. I have sat beside singers and songwriters, playwrights, actors, film makers and dancers. My classmates have been car salesmen, directors, mothers, recording artists, people from all walks of life and from all points in life, and I know that many of them never expected their lives to bring them to this very moment. But all of them—all of you—all of us, arrived here because we made a conscious decision to get the most out of every moment we have, before we run out of moments.
I can remember sitting in my first theatre class, Introduction to Theatre, taught by Pat Flood at the University of Guelph. She told us that university learning was about learning to “question everything.” I’ve taken this phrase to heart - often to the chagrin of my instructors—and not once have I been disappointed. Every episode of Doctor Who revolves around this notion of constant questioning, and there’s no reason why our lives after graduation should be any less thrilling, why our moments should be filled with anything less than exhaustive study of the world around us. The Doctor says, “There’s something that doesn’t make sense. Let’s go poke it with a stick.” The degrees we earn today are our sticks.
With this in mind I would like to congratulate the graduating class of 2013 in the School of Fine and Applied Arts. There is a great big universe out there, just beyond those doors - allons-y.
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