High School Graduation

Colegio Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Lima, Peru

June 2004

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I cannot fight the fact that someday–maybe too soon–this speech, this graduation, and probably I will no longer be even a memory in your minds… in our minds. And it’s a trend that happens with everything. Your high school friends will be shadows among the ones to come. Your teachers will merely be ghosts and most of your peers, just silhouettes barely recognizable against the white background of your life here at Roosevelt. I sure hope that would never happen. I convince myself it won’t, but believe me, it will. You will try to keep in touch and promise each other you will visit every now and then. But even you know in the back of your mind, that you probably will never do it. And it is really sad to think that people, friends who were with you every single day, will be out of your life forever. And you will walk out of this room, maybe with the person you care about the most next to you, with the melody of a graduation song you don’t even like in your head, with the hopes of becoming something great in the years to come… hopes that are simply intangible threads of optimism that will break whenever you try to get a hold of them. And even though we all might leave this room full of hope… that hope won’t take us anywhere.

We live in a time that tells us that most of us will get divorced and that cancer will take the lives of the majority of our classmates. There will be a few fatal car crashes, a couple cases of alcoholism, a good number of drug addicts, and what the heck, maybe even one or two suicides. That is life. It is not that happy walk in the park that most of us dream of whenever we dare to look into the future. There is tragedy, there is pain, there is death. Yes, you will have to wake up and work some day, and feel really bad whenever the money you earn is not enough to pay for the phone bill your teenage daughter spends talking to her boyfriend. And yes you will cry… whenever you find out your little boy is going to spend a night in jail for possession of cocaine. You will cry.

But the beauty of it all, is that we are young, full of energy and immortal. What do we care right now that the person standing next to us will have a mid-life crisis 40 years from now? What do we care that all the girls in our class will have really bad cases of menopause and make their husbands’ lives hell in their later years? We just don’t worry about that kind of stuff.

Because eventually the future will come, and we can’t do anything about it. Right now we don’t know who’ll be rich, who’ll be healthy, who’ll be poor, who’ll be sick, who’ll die and who’ll live. We can’t control that. However, what we can control is that some of us will have a great time tonight and party until we almost feel like dying. And now, at the peak of our youth, we can drink and we can smoke and get in fights, cry, jump, laugh, kiss, sleep, dance, fall and get up again… we can do everything. And all those cancers, and all those deaths, and all those addictions, will seem so far away.

That’s the beauty of it all, people. Live the moment, enjoy it, put it in a little box, and treasure it. Those who do that will succeed. Those who do that will be able to look at the pictures, at the love letters, at the wrapped souvenirs of their youth, and they will remember. They’ll smile and they’ll cry and remember that once upon a time there was the class of 2004… a class feared by teachers and students. I mean they dreaded us. We might all go to hell just for what we did in high school… but whatever, it was worth it.