Graduation

Graduation Speaker Nails It: Read Books and Make Babies

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In my junior year of high school, our English class received the assignment to read Joseph Heller’s book Catch 22. I remember reading it and thinking to myself for the first time: this author is having fun writing this. He’s giving characters silly names.

The characters did quirky things. Appleby always beat everyone he played in ping pong 21 to nothing. Milo Minderbinder was a character’s name. Major Major rocked two first names: Major Major.

It wasn’t clear where things were going. The story felt like a rollercoaster trip to someplace I had never even imagined. There wasn’t any real plan. All readers had to concern themselves with was being amused and blown away.

The most memorable of those ideas was my first encounter with a paradox. The main character was in the war but wanted to leave. So to the decision-makers, he pretended to be crazy so they’d let him leave. They told him he wasn’t crazy because a crazy person wouldn’t pretend to be crazy. A crazy person wouldn’t want to leave because crazy people don’t care if they’re in a war or not.

What? The idea still twists my mind into a knot. For weeks I noodled on this paradox. Couldn’t stop wondering about it. Engages me to this day What does it mean? Who is crazy? Are we all crazy?

This book lit my passion for reading books and becoming a writer because I discovered writing – and reading — could be fun. I was all in.

Which is why it resonated with me yesterday when I listened to documentary filmmaker Ken Burns share his thoughts this month during his University of Pennsylvania graduation speech.

“Read,” he said. “The book is still the greatest man-made machine of all. Not the car. Not the computer. Not the smartphone. The book.”

Bang.

Books change lives. Catch-22 forever altered mine. So have many others such as Start With Why, Me and the Spitter, The Blue Ocean Strategy, On Writing Well, This Side of Paradise, Tuesdays With Morrie, and They Call Me Coach.

To name a handful.

Having drilled home his point about books. I figured Burns had reached his climax. But he raised the stakes.

“At some point make babies,” he said. “It’s one of the greatest things that will happen to you. You will learn to worry about someone other than yourself. It is liberating and exhilarating. I promise. Ask your parents.”

Yes, making babies and worrying about them, caring for them, watching them, loving them, teaching them, listening to them, and honoring them, is life’s greatest high.

There is nothing better.

Check out the speech here:

Sammy Sportface

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Sammy Sportface

Sammy Sportface, a sports blogger, galvanizes, inspires, and amuses The Baby Boomer Brotherhood. And you can learn about his vision and join this group's Facebook page here: Sammy Sportface Has a Vision -- Check It Out Sammy Sportface -- The Baby Boomer Brotherhood Blog -- Facebook Page
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Sammy Sportface
Sammy Sportface
Sammy Sportface, a sports blogger, galvanizes, inspires, and amuses The Baby Boomer Brotherhood. And you can learn about his vision and join this group's Facebook page here:

Sammy Sportface Has a Vision -- Check It Out

Sammy Sportface -- The Baby Boomer Brotherhood Blog -- Facebook Page
Sammy Sportface

Sammy Sportface

Sammy Sportface, a sports blogger, galvanizes, inspires, and amuses The Baby Boomer Brotherhood. And you can learn about his vision and join this group's Facebook page here: Sammy Sportface Has a Vision -- Check It Out Sammy Sportface -- The Baby Boomer Brotherhood Blog -- Facebook Page

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