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The Long And Winding Road

They say that the long and winding road leads to your door, but it is time that we open that door and look outside into the twinkling horizon of opportunity, and then take jobs. As we reach the end of our journey, it is fitting that we should take a moment and reflect on the unfinished symphony of our own management educations.

Webster’s Dictionary defines “MBA” as an “abbreviation of master of business administration,” but it is much more than that. A mere dictionary, a hollow tome of wordsmanship, cannot capture the essence of the term. Plato talked about the essences of things, and he was right.

It seems like only 21 months ago that Dean Clark told us that our 21 months together would fly by, and that all of the sudden we would be walking across the stage getting our diplomas. Well, we still have not walked across the stage, so it would be premature to conclude whether or not he was right. However, the Dean was right about one thing: the 21 months have certainly flown by, though not so fast that it didn’t feel like
21 months or perhaps a bit more, give or take a couple of weeks.

Ladies and gentlemen, no man is an island. People are landlocked, and this is for good reason, because most of us do not float. Ivory soap floats, because it is 99.9% pure. But we do not float, and what does this say about us? It says that no man is an island, nor is he or she a bar of Ivory soap. Nay, we have oversimplified – some of us float and others don’t. Fat people float better than big-boned people. Fat is less dense than bone. Fat is therefore purer. In life, the people that float are the purer ones. So don’t exercise. But we should never allow ourselves to be constrained by the invisible tethers of body composition.

The other day, I was sitting on Baker Beach, that grassy flat knoll in the warm gray shadow of the broken library. I was reflecting on myself and my journey. And it occurred to me that people are by far the most important thing in life, and mine in particular.

As we tread gingerly into the real world, like a toddler on his first stroll through broken glass, we must remember our priorities. The sticky talon of workaholism may sometimes penetrate into the epidermis-y papyrus of our skin, and we may work late. When this happens, let us not shy away from unattractive truths: we will forget our children.

Our children will cry after us with shrill, insistent voices, like a trumpet being played from inside a giant balloon with a stretched air-hole.

Friends, let us make a pledge to each other: While we are only human, and it is natural for us to forget our children, we must still accept the noble responsibility of feeding them. Let us not feed them bone, for then they will not float as well.

The things that matter in this world are expensive, but you cannot buy happiness. It is said that happiness is a warm gun, but this seems inadequate. Webster’s Dictionary defines “happiness” as “a state of well-being and contentment,” and this seems much closer to the mark or at least closer to its usage in the common vernacular.

This world is not black and white. It is African-American and Caucasian. It is Chinese and Shriner. Sometimes, it is all these things. The world comes in many colors and creeds. No one asks the world why it spins on its axis. It does so quietly, composed, with dignity and without complaint.

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy, and this is why I am moving out of Boston and taking off my shirt. Soon we will pack our bags and walk into new cities like ecstatic flatworms in a new intestine. As we embark on the next chapter of our journeys, we should always remember that life is fundamentally about the little things, until the big things hit.

Life gives us wings. Sometimes, when you feel like you cannot sink any lower, you may be brushed by a tiny gust of wind from your midsection. This could be your last breath, but maybe it is your wings flapping to help you soar above the sloshy bedpan of life’s traumas. Wings give us wings. Please cherish the fact that each one of you is an angel trapped inside the body of a human with wings.

In the end, all we have is our slowly rotting brains full of rapidly expiring memories. And love. Love is the tie that binds, the glue that seals, the lid that lowers. Love is the one thing you cannot hate. Webster’s Dictionary defines “hate” as “intense hostility and aversion.” Webster’s Dictionary does not float. Thank you all. It has been a long, strange trip. Always remember to feel.

May 3, 2004
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