Finding your cup - a commencement address
Once upon a time, my young son and I were contentedly chewing pieces of bubblegum. Without thinking, I blew a big bubble. He looked at me as if I’d pulled a rabbit out of my hat and asked how I’d done that.
Simple– flatten the gum against the top of your mouth like this.” Being a schoolteacher, I cleverly demonstrated how to flatten your gum and he got that far. But then the trouble began. Now, stick your tongue halfway through the flat piece like this.
His face tightened in confusion– How do you stick your tongue halfway through a piece of mushy bubblegum? It got worse, and by the time I’d explained the whole bubble blowing procedure, he was dead bored.
He got up, shrugged, and went off to watch cartoons. Now if you think I’m a loser, the next time you’re chewing bubblegum, try explaining to the seven year old nearby how to blow a bubble without confusing or boring them. It’s not easy, and yet another proof that language is always a very fragile thing that is, at best, difficult to handle when you’re trying to use it carefully and correctly.
Couldn't understand the answer. Now listen: Imagine that I am holding a pot of tea and you are thirsty. You want me to give you tea. I can pour it but you’ll have to produce the cup. I can’t pour the tea on your hands or you’ll get burned: If I pour it on the floor, I shall spoil the floor mats. You have to have a cup. That cup you will form in yourself by the training you will receive here.
Now if this school has done good things for you, then you have already found the cup you need to hold whatever tea we had to give. Whether that tea was the poetry of Shakespeare or the weight of an atom, many of you are sitting out there with a filled teacup. Those of you who aren’t, hopefully when you go on to whatever other teachers you’ll have in life, like those at a university or a job, you’ll find it there. Some of you aren’t even aware it is there, but that is because the cup is inside you and not held in your hands.
I advice him to Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for answers, which could not be given to you now because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer. Perhaps you do carry within you the possibility of creating and forming, as an especially blessed and pure way of living: train yourself for that. But whatever comes, with great trust, and as long as it comes out of your will, out of some need of your innermost self, then take it upon yourself, and don’t hate anything.”
Great advice, but I think the majority of you are already thinking in that direction now that you’ve reached the end of this school’s road. Live the questions, find the right cup for your tea, but maybe most importantly of all, remember the words of that great blond American philosopher, Marilyn Monroe: “I am not interested in money. I just want to be wonderful.”
I said: Son now I hope you learn– go out and be wonderful.
Thanks for stopping by.