Speech to Harvard Graduating Class the Diamond in the Dung Heap

I would think, of all the fine institutions of higher learning in the U.S., the graduating class at Harvard would rate a top-notch commencement speaker. I won’t say who it was, if you’re interested and tech savvy you’ll find him. I watched, and listened, at times incredulous at others times embarrassed for him. But when all was said and done I was able to glean one sentence from his speech to that illustrious crowd that I found of any value whatsoever. It was a piece of advice that by his own admission he felt qualified to give.


There it is. At first glance you’re probably thinking, Huh? And you didn’t even hear the absolute rubbish that preceded it! But that sentence worked on me, chirped at me in the half-awake moments of morning, nagged at me in the nodding-off moments at night. And I realized that, in spite of himself, that speaker had given me something of worthwhile brilliance to ponder.

Think outside the box. We’ve all heard that one and we know what it means. But what if ‘the box’ represents norms, standards, social and familial expectations, rules, guidelines, in short, expected and accepted behavior? And what if cutting a hole in the box allows anyone inside to see, taste, hear, and entertain the option of admitting unfamiliar information into his/her experience? That would be a good thing, right?

I tried to work with that, to make it work for me. Then suddenly I recognized the elephant in the room…the monster under the bed. No wonder I couldn’t make it fit. I exist completely outside ‘the box.’ The choices I have made for my life at this particular time do not align with norms, expectations, or accepted behavior for someone of my age and circumstance. But (and I have the utmost gratitude for this) the hole I have cut in ‘the box’ allows me to crawl inside once-in-awhile for love, support, comfort and reassurance that even though I am unconventional, I am still a valid part of the structure that made me who I am.

So thank you, you who will remain nameless until someone finds you online with the information I have provided. You made me think. You made me sort through the dung heap to extract the diamond. Aren’t you the cat’s pajamas.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Diane Struble
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 01:06:07

    Fun take on his speech. I must admit that I never think about boxes although I guess they can be comforting or confining. Everyone’s box is different so I find that concept not to be of much value. Nonetheless I understand what your speaker was getting at with his suggestion to let new ideas, thoughts, feelings enter one’s life.



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