For Adventurers Clad in Long Robes

I have always been fascinated by the idea of being a valedictorian. You know; standing in front of people, delivering a speech that will hopefully change the world—or simply waste a few minutes of people’s lives.

The very foundation of using your own words and voice to instill a drop of water in the bucket we call “our generation” is a peculiarly foreign thing to me, and thus, fascinating.

Unfortunately, even though I believe I have the passion to deliver these words, I did not have the qualifications to do so in my graduation ceremony. That day, I sat in the middle row of the great hall with shame and listened halfheartedly to the valedictorian’s speech.

I must say, the speech itself felt so fabricated with all those subliminal advertisements of our university it even made me sick. But the person who spoke in front of us seemed like your typical good kid. I even wondered seriously whether this person we call the valedictorian actually enjoyed his campus life.

Judging that he had less fun experience during university just because he was smarter than everyone else was, of course, not a fair thing to do. But as I sat there and pondered about all these explosive train of thoughts, I began to truly wonder whether this person, this valedictorian, at the very least, really wanted to deliver the speech.

I’m sure that he was immensely proud of himself. I mean, who wouldn’t? A summa cum laude in hand, valedictorian title worn with pride and honor. Parents, tightly embracing his petite body and flashing their smiles everywhere. I felt like him being there, and me being in the middle row of the seats was a testament of the difference in our worth. And who am I to voice my complaints out loud? For someone who nearly failed her Calculus class, I sure bark a lot.

But at the same time, I thought of the accumulated experience I had in university, and then it hit me hard.

Source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-walking-on-gray-stairs-677971/

Everybody deserves to be the valedictorian of their own journeys. They are all champions in their own rights. They graduated being a better version of themselves than several years ago. They all underwent hardships, endured ordeals, and still, graduated in the end. What could possibly be more of an accomplishment than that? We cannot measure people’s worth just by whether they graduated as a cum laude or not. In fact, we are really much more than that.

I am sure everyone will have their own speeches, so to say, inside themselves. Some might write them down like me, and some might even ignore it completely. Let’s just say I have this strong inclination to finally share my thoughts. And I hope I don’t offend anyone with this. Believe me, thinking back, I think that valedictorian deserved his place right on the podium. I wouldn’t even have half of his guts to do so.

Anyhow, if I were to deliver my own speech during the graduation ceremony, I think it would go like this:


***


I remember watching a video on Youtube a while back on graduation speeches. There was this man, clad in his long, black robe, and some sheets of paper. I remember I saw him standing on this podium, opening his crumpled and rather filthy speech text, and looked at the audience directly; eyes brimming with confidence.

The man was named Neil Gaiman.

He is an author. A different sub-species of humankind who translates emotions and dreams into words. Then they interpret these words into emotions and dreams. Their job is to provide an endless cycle of illusion to trap the readers with their alternate realities; providing myriad branches of subconsciousness that could propel a perspective into a different angle.

He was talking about making a good art. Whether you had a shitty life, or a good life. Whether your cat just exploded in the microwave, or you just got dumped by your partner. Whatever you do, he said, make good art.

Some of you might be wondering why I bring about this topic to a graduation speech. Not everyone in this room is an artist. Everyone strives for different paths; way more than I could possibly imagine. There might be some of you who want to be artists, but I’m pretty sure there are a lot of you who don’t want to be one either. So the question remains; why do I bring the topic of making good art into this speech? The answer is rather simple: because art has taught me a lot of things. And I thought sharing these things might not be a bad idea.

 

Being an aspiring artist—a novelist, to be exact, taught me the importance of dedication. You may find your muse hiding inside your closet. You can also find it wandering around the vicinity of your neighborhood. You may find it inside other people. And you will risk any amount of time, any sum of effort, and would endure any amount of scorns, any burden of shame, or disgrace, or anxiety, just to acquire your muse. Just to get it done. Just to get it written.

You will fail. You will most definitely experience a gruesome failure and plunge yourself into this figurative pit of despair. But as a famous author once said, those very pits of despair might as well become a strong foundation of what you will become in the future. When all hope is lost, it is your determination; your dedication and unyielding resilience that will fuel your endeavor. You don’t know whether you’ll succeed or not. Nobody does. But still, being an aspiring artist, you’ll know better than anyone that not knowing you will succeed is half the fun of trying.

Secondly, being an aspiring artist taught me that we are crazy enough to endure inhumane level of hardships. Even in the direst of adversity, we still strive to bloom and chase our dreams like madmen. I know many of you graduate with a bitter aftertaste. I hope it wasn’t too unpleasant, but if it was, I’m truly sorry. Because there is nothing more pitiful than graduating without patting yourself in the back and say, “Hey I’ve done a pretty good job making it here!”.

Art has taught me, that in order to make good art, you’ve got to put your heart in it.

You may have the talent. You may find your muse easily. You may even be dedicated on top of that. But as long as you lack the heart, your art will just be this lump of inanimate object. You will never bring life into it, the same way the universe breathed lives into our very bodies. That is the basic principle of making good art: create a crappy art, and slab your heart over it. Make it bleed. Make it good.

Now I’m very sure that you’re wondering, how would these three advice help you in the future? You’re not even an aspiring artist. Well, I mean, if you are, then good, but, sadly, most of the time, you’re not. And that’s okay.

You might want to be an entrepreneur. Or an investor. Or a programmer, journalist, management officer, marketing executive, hobbyist, farmer, hotelier, or even an overnight tycoon. And that’s okay. That’s perfectly fine.

We are just starting out, so don’t be afraid to start out on an adventure. If you don’t want to be an artist, then it’s fine. Just remember to put on your best effort; your best dedication. Be strong and resilient, and press on in the direst of adversity. Fail gallantly and return with a magnificent plan for victory. Fail once more and learn from that mistake. Keep making mistakes: good mistakes; bad mistakes. And from time to time, pat yourselves in the back and praise yourself for making it thus far.

Don’t run away from hardships. Instead, welcome them with open arms. Face them; overcome them with our powers, and know that we are never alone in this journey. You may doubt yourselves halfway through your journey, but don’t stop there. There might come times when you just want to call it quits, but before you do, please remember why you started in the first place. Remember that not knowing the end result was half of the fun in trying. And even if you fail in the end, it’s okay. Nobody is going to scold you when you’ve tried your very best. At the very least, nobody who does that is ever worth your concern.

Lastly, embrace those hardships; those failures.

Accept that they were parts of your journey, too. Never forget them. Never throw them away. Who knows, maybe it will prove to be a useful experience in the future for you, or for other people! Nurture your heart as you pave your roads ahead. Be mindful that you never accomplish anything alone. Treasure those who cherish you. Give back to society what they had given to you. Be a person with a good heart, and live by holding into that.

And, if somewhere along the way, you decide to be an artist of some sort, that is fine, too. Even though, as a complete disclaimer on my part, I cannot guarantee any successes in this area of expertise, don’t listen to people who sneer at the very thought of becoming an artist. Enjoy your lives. Be happy. Because if there is one piece of advice that I found very true and useful, that’s it! Be happy.

So be happy at all times. When your hope is in shambles, find some way to make you happy. Always try to put on a smile, and strive not for the money, but for happiness itself. And when you can make yourself happy, next time try to make other people happy.

So do what you can do. Do what your hearts tell you to do. You can sing and dance and write and paint and sell and build and invest and pray and eat. Just remember to be dedicated, expect hardships along the way, and always slab your heart over your passion.

Congratulations on graduating, everyone. Whatever your passion is, please fight for it. Please make an art out of it. Make it bleed.

So do what you can do. Do what your hearts tell you to do. You can sing and dance and write and paint and sell and build and invest and pray and eat. Just remember to be dedicated, expect hardships along the way, and always slab your heart over your passion.


***


I will be posting new content every Saturdays, be it writerly stuff, or just things that I like to write about. This includes my own stories, information about my books, and things that interest me. Keep yourself updated by following me on Twitter and Instagram.


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3 thoughts on “For Adventurers Clad in Long Robes

  1. Alicia says:

    💗💗💗 your posts always speak to my heart! I have missed a lot of blog posts recently, mainly because I have been dedicating most of my time to creating art, (ironically and quite fitting for this post) but yours I always remember to read 🌻🌻

    Liked by 1 person

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