i recently re-watched amy poehler’s commencement address to the 2011 graduating class of harvard university. why? because a) it’s graduation season, b) i’ve gotten really into parks & recreation these days and c) do i really need a reason? it’s amy poehler and harvard. that alone should warrant a second viewing.
anyway, i remember it being good. so good, in fact, that i re-posted a video of the speech in its entirety and probably even called out the below listed quote (for someone with a photographic memory, i really can’t recall the exact lines i chose to highlight) on the other blog. you know this one. but on this sophomoric round, i couldn’t help but be inspired all over again. and yes, the “not being flexible and hurting yourself on a treadmill that isn’t even turned on” comment was just as funny this time as it was the first.
I cannot stress enough that the answer to a lot of your life’s questions is often in someone else’s face. Try putting your iPhones down every once in a while and look at people’s faces. People’s faces will tell you amazing things. Like if they are angry or nauseous, or asleep. I have been lucky to be a part of great ensembles. My work with the upright citizens brigade led me to my work on Saturday Night Live, and when I graduated from that comedy college, I was worried about what came next. Then Parks and Recreation came along, a show I am proud of where I get to work with people I love. You never know what is around the corner unless you peek. Hold someone’s hand while you do it. You will feel less scared. You can’t do this alone. Besides it is much more fun to succeed and fail with other people. You can blame them when things go wrong. Take your risks now. As you grow older, you become more fearful and less flexible. And I mean that literally. I hurt my knee on the treadmill this week and it wasn’t even on. Try to keep your mind open to possibilities and your mouth closed on matters that you don’t know about. Limit your “always” and your “nevers.” Continue to share your heart with people even if its been broken. Don’t treat your heart like an action figure wrapped in plastic and never used. And don’t try to give me that nerd argument that your heart is a batman with a limited edition silver battering and therefore if it stays in its original package it increases in value. Watch it Harvard, you’re not better than me.
Even though, as a class, you are smart, you are still allowed to say, “I don’t know.” Just because you are in high demand, you are still allowed to say, “Let me get back to you.” This will come in handy when your parents ask when you plan to move out of their basement and you answer, “I don’t know. Let me get back to you.” Which leads me to my final thought: would it kill you to be nicer to your parents? They have sacrificed so much for you, and all they want you to do is smile and take a picture with your weird cousins. Do that for them. And with less eye-rolling, please. And so, class of 2011, it is time to leave. Oprah has spoken.
So I will end with this quote: Heyah, Heyah, Heyah, Heyah, Heyah, heyah, heyah, heyah, alright alright alright, alright, alright. The group: Outcast; the song: Heyah. The lyrics: nonsense. I’m sorry it was really late when I wrote this.
This is what I want to say. When you feel scared, hold someone’s hand and look into their eyes. And when you feel brave, do the same thing. You are all here because you are smart. And you are brave. And if you add kindness and the ability to change a tire, you almost make up the perfect person. I thank you for asking me to speak to you today. As you head out into the world I wish you love and light, joy, and much laughter. And as always, please don’t forget to tip your waitresses. Thank you very much.
sometimes i think about the people who inspire me in the writing realm. those who give me the little extra oomph to be better than my last post. and while i would never equate myself with having even half of the comedic chops of miss poehler, i will say that sometimes it’s just nice to know gals like her are out there roaming around this world. they, like the tina feys, mindy kalings, and the lesser knowns -lincee of ihategreenbeans, sarah of inmyopinion, jenny of thebloggess, and whoever writes surisburnbook, only serve to further solidify the fact that sarcasm, wit and sass can get you far in life. they may or may not get you hot husbands, too. i’m looking at you, poehler.
but really, i aspire to be just as equal parts pithy and equal parts flippant as my fellow female wordsmiths and maybe someday, if i really play my cards right, i, too will be asked to give a commencement speech. even if it’s for a community college in barstow.