Peter Shelton

Grad Speech: Of Love and Labradoodles

Posted in Uncategorized by pshelton on May 24, 2012

Thank you for asking me here to deliver the commencement address at Colona University.

The CU graduating class may consist of only the one person, me – graduate and speaker; it is a little schizoid – but it reminds me of the very wise story my uncle’s second wife told about the cruise they took when her Powerball numbers came through at last and they were able to follow their dream of travelling to exotic shores. And she said: “The food was terrible. And the portions so small!”

They told me not to look directly at the eclipse Sunday. When I was in college we never trusted anyone over 30. Or what they told us. And look at us now! We may not have been the first generation to look right at the sun, but we very well may be the first generation not to outlive our parents. We may be the generation to break the bank of Medicare and Social Security. The Beatles told us, “All you need is love.” And that might be all we have left in the end.

We used to laugh at Chris Farley on Saturday Night Live talking about “living in a van down by the river!” Now, because we followed our bliss, that scenario is not actually out of the question for Ellen and me. We sold my VW microbus years ago, for a dollar. We liked the kid, and figured it was good karma. Now I guess we might have to look for another van.

Thank you also for the wonderful honorary degree. You could have asked Carlos Slim to jet in from Mexico and give your commencement speech. And he might have dropped a couple million of his telecom bucks on you for a real university building.

I know it was tough holding classes under that big sagebrush. But that toughness is going to serve you well out there in your future. That’s what I’m here today to talk about, the future. You need to be in on it. The one percent are not going to do it for you. Their money’s on vacation in the Caymans. You have to be paying attention. And taxes.

Be engaged with the world. Take the G8. Please. They’re meeting right now in Chicago. Deciding the future. Don’t blame Kobe. It was his teammates’ fault. Besides, he wasn’t in Chicago. He was in L.A. If the world were full of people as motivated, as blameless as Kobe Bryant, it would be a different place. For sure.

Greece is a slippery situation. There’s the Eurozone. But honestly, weren’t most of us immigrants from there to start with? We’re a nation of immigrants. Except for the Utes. But I guess they had to have come from somewhere, too. So there you have it.

In Pakistan (most of them emigrate to Britain) they just blocked Twitter for posting blasphemous images of the Prophet Mohammed. Any attempt to visually represent Mohammed is blasphemy. Have you followed that? Of course you have. On Facecrack. Or Frackbook. I can’t keep up. You young people invented multi-tasking. Just please don’t be doing it while driving. I have enough trouble keeping it on the road with two hands.

Then there’s gay marriage. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. The President has come out in favor. And I see that Bristol Palin, on the other side, has pronounced the absolute value of “growing up in a mother/father home.”

Speaking of Wasilla, the Romney campaign has indicated a willingness to exhume the Rev. Jeremiah Wright scandal that worked so well for McCain/Palin in 2008. Apparently they want to bring up the subject of religion. This from an elder in a faith that baptizes dead people and believes in magic underwear.

No, dear graduate, you must set your sights high. You must raise your eyes to the mysteries of the universe. Who knows, you might someday unravel the mystery of Tiger Woods’ tragic decline. Or the mystery of all that CO2 up in the air.

You might be the archeologist who deciphers the truth of the labradoodle petroglyph in Horsefly Canyon. Or you might serve your fellow man by designing a missile defense system to keep the Front Range from stealing any more water from the Western Slope.

Above all, as you head out into the limitless world, do as I say, not as I do. Don’t ski your brain out, or freelance, or stay home with your babies and watch movies, and ride bikes together, and listen to music and be happy and have no ambitions beyond that.

No. Somebody has to keep Medicare afloat. And I don’t want to have to share too many of my secret stashes.

One Response

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  1. kak said, on May 24, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    Best ever column, er, commencement address. As we comence on together rocky racoon!!!

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