Editor’s Note—Below is the complete text of Caruso Middle School eighth grader Benjamin Sachs’s commencement speech.
I’m here today to talk about three simple things. That’s it. I’m just going to talk and you can listen or you can continue to play Words with Friends on your phone. It’s your choice.
The first is the Past. While it’s important to learn from your past, you shouldn’t delve into it too much. The past can never be changed or re-written; it is definite. The past is in the past, so let’s all live in the present.
The second is the Now. This one is my favorite. It is when all the action happens and all the things get done. Everything in our past led us to here. To this moment right here, right now. Our past has defined who we are and everything we stand for. Right now you’re probably thinking “Wait, didn’t Benjy just tell us the past doesn’t matter? And wow his hair looks great, does he use some kind of product?” The answer to both of those questions is a strong “yes.” While the past has become a representation of ourselves, it only makes up how others see us. Any time we want we can re-invent ourselves. Our past doesn’t have to be us, because all that matters is what is happening in the present. Now is a time for being who you want to be and loving what you do. There’s a simple trick to see if you’re doing this. Every morning you should ask yourself “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to spend it doing what I am about to do today?” And if the answer is no, then you need a change. You need to focus more on the present, doing more of what you love and less of what you don’t.
And if you still need help being happy, just remember one thing: We are all going to die. You’re going to die and I’m going to die and everybody is going to die eventually. Well, except for Charlie Sheen, who I’m pretty sure is immortal. Anyway, I know it sounds morbid, but it is a great motivator. Just remembering that our time is limited and could end at any time at all encourages us to do the things that we’ve always put of for tomorrow. Because there’s no better time to do them than Now.
The final thing is the Future. This one is the most exciting. It has robots and space ships and hopefully even Bacon in a spray can. One day. But it’s exciting because we don’t know what it holds. We don’t know which way we’ll go in life, what paths we took, how our lives turned out. And most importantly, where we ended up in life. Right now we cannot know where we’ll end up on our journey. There’s only one thing we can do. We can try to steer ourselves where we think we want to go. But if we end up in a different place entirely, we just have to trust it’s the right place for us and hope we enjoyed the ride.
Because in the end, that’s what truly matters. Not that we ended up where we wanted, but that we enjoyed the ride. Life is less about the destination and more about the getting there. That’s what I hope sticks with you. Wherever you are, wherever you’ve been, whichever direction you are heading, whomever you’re with, wherever you want to be, whatever you do, just enjoy the ride.