“Change has a considerable psychological impact on the human mind.  To the fearful, it is threatening because it means things may get worse.  To the hopeful, it is encouraging because it means things may get better.  To the confident, it is inspiring because it means that the challenge exists to make things better.”
-King Whitney Jr.


Words to Inspire: Travel




In the countdown to my departure (4 days) I have been spending my free time doing some reading. I found myself constantly landing on quotes focused on traveling.Obviously, I believe that traveling is one of the best ways for personal growth.  So in an attempt to get others to travel I decided to post my favorite 25 quotes on traveling.  Hope you all enjoy. and feel free to leave you favorite travel quote in the comment section!

1. “Like those in the valley behind us, most people stand in sight of the spiritual mountains all their lives and never enter them, being content to listen to others who have been there and thus avoid the hardships.” – Robert M. Pirsig

2. “There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

3.  “May all your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view……where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you. – Edward Abbey

4.  “Tourists don’t know where they’ve been. Travelers don’t know where they’re going.”-Paul Theroux

5. “When you travel you experience, in a very practical way, the act of rebirth. You confront completely new situations, the day passes more slowly, and on most journeys you don’t even understand the language the people speak….You begin to be more accessible to others, because they may be able to help you in difficult situations.~ The Pilgrimage – Paulo Coelho

6. The man who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd.
The man who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been.” -Alan Ashley-Pitt

7.Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.-Neale Donald Walsch

8.People say that what we are all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think this is what we’re really seeking. I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive.” ~ The Power of Myth – Joseph Campbell

9. v“What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do – especially in other people’s minds. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” – William Least Heat Moon

10. “Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” – Mark Jenkins

11. Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain

12.  “Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” – Cesare Pavese

13. All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own. And if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it.” – Samuel Johnson

14.“All the pathos and irony of leaving one’s youth behind is thus implicit in every joyous moment of travel: one knows that the first joy can never be recovered, and the wise traveler learns not to repeat successes but tries new places all the time.”- Paul Fussel

15. “He who does not travel does not know the value of men.” – Moorish proverb

16.To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” – Freya Stark

17.“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the ones you did. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”– Mark Twain

18.We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharial Nehru

19.To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” – Bill Bryson

20.”Not all those who wander are lost.” J.R.R. Tolkien

21. “I have worn the dust of many foreign streets, but to brush it off would surely be a crime.I have the memories of many foreign adventures, but to forget them, would surely be a sin.So, breath in the dust, and keep the memories in. Rowland Waring-Flood

22.“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can  see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the
people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”- Terry Pratchett

23.“To those who stay put, the world is but an imaginary place. But to the movers, the makers, and the shakers, the world is all around, an endless
invitation.”- Unknown

24. “If while on your way you meet no one your equal or better, steadily continue on your way alone. There is no fellowship with fools.” Dhammapada.

25. There’s a race of men that don’t fit in,  A race that can’t stay still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin, And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and they rove the flood, And they climb the mountain’s crest;
Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood, And they don’t know how to rest.
~ The Men That Don’t Fit In (First Verse) – Robert Service ~

Pacific Dawn Itinerary with Pictures of Selected Destinations

As you can see I am going to a few locations multiple times.  This is nice because it will allow me to actually get to see and experience each location for more than just a few hours definitely adding to the journey.

Brisbane 8/31/2013 6:00 8/31/2013 16:00

-Brisbane 9/3/2013 6:00 9/3/2013 14:00
-Noumea 9/5/2013 15:00 9/5/2013 23:00

-Isle Of Pines 9/6/2013 8:00 9/6/2013 17:00
– Mystery Island 9/7/2013 8:00 9/7/2013 16:00
-Wala 9/8/2013 9:00 9/8/2013 17:00

-Champagne Bay 9/9/2013 8:00 9/9/2013 17:00

-Port Vila 9/10/2013 8:00 9/10/2013 23:59
-Port Vila 9/11/2013 0:01 9/11/2013 17:00
– Brisbane 9/14/2013 6:00 9/14/2013 14:00
-Noumea 9/16/2013 15:00 9/16/2013 22:00
– Lifou 9/17/2013 8:00 9/17/2013 17:00
– Port Vila 9/18/2013 8:00 9/18/2013 17:00
-Brisbane 9/21/2013 6:00 9/21/2013 14:00
-Airlie Beach 9/23/2013 7:00 9/23/2013 16:00
– Yorkey’s Knob 9/24/2013 9:00 9/24/2013 18:30
-Port Douglas 9/25/2013 8:00 9/25/2013 18:00
– Willis Island 9/26/2013 10:00 9/26/2013 11:00
– Brisbane 9/28/2013 6:00 9/28/2013 14:00
– Noumea 9/30/2013 15:00 9/30/2013 22:00
– Lifou 10/1/2013 8:00 10/1/2013 17:00

-Port Vila 10/2/2013 8:00 10/2/2013 17:00
-Brisbane 10/5/2013 6:00 10/5/2013 14:00
– Noumea 10/7/2013 15:00 10/7/2013 22:00

– Lifou 10/8/2013 8:00 10/8/2013 17:00
-Port Vila 10/9/2013 8:00 10/9/2013 17:00
-Brisbane 10/12/2013 6:00 10/12/2013 14:00
-Noumea 10/14/2013 15:00 10/14/2013 22:00
– Lifou 10/15/2013 8:00 10/15/2013 17:00
-Port Vila 10/16/2013 8:00 10/16/2013 17:00
-Brisbane 10/19/2013 6:00 10/19/2013 14:00
-Isle Of Pines 10/22/2013 8:00 10/22/2013 17:00
-Mystery Island 10/23/2013 8:00 10/23/2013 17:00
– Suva (FIJI) 10/25/2013 8:00 10/25/2013 18:00

-Port Denarau 10/26/2013 8:00 10/26/2013 18:30
-Port Vila 10/28/2013 8:00 10/28/2013 17:00
-Brisbane 10/31/2013 6:00 10/31/2013 14:00
-Townsville 11/2/2013 8:00 11/2/2013 17:00
– Alotau 11/4/2013 8:00 11/4/2013 17:00
-Kiriwina Island 11/5/2013 8:00 11/5/2013 17:00
-Doini Island 11/6/2013 8:30 11/6/2013 17:00
– Brisbane 11/9/2013 6:00 11/9/2013 14:00
– Noumea 11/11/2013 15:00 11/11/2013 22:00
-Lifou 11/12/2013 8:00 11/12/2013 17:00
– Port Vila 11/13/2013 8:00 11/13/2013 17:00
– Brisbane 11/16/2013 6:00 11/16/2013 14:00
– Kitava 11/19/2013 8:00 11/19/2013 18:00
– Kiriwina Island 11/20/2013 8:00 11/20/2013 18:00
-Alotau 11/21/2013 8:00 11/21/2013 16:00
– Doini Island 11/22/2013 8:00 11/22/2013 17:00

-Townsville 11/24/2013 8:00 11/24/2013 16:00
– Brisbane 11/26/2013 8:00 11/26/2013 16:00
– Brisbane 11/30/2013 6:00 11/30/2013 14:00
– Airlie Beach 12/2/2013 7:00 12/2/2013 16:00
-Yorkey’s Knob 12/3/2013 9:00 12/3/2013 18:30
– Port Douglas 12/4/2013 8:00 12/4/2013 18:00
– Willis Island 12/5/2013 10:00 12/5/2013 11:00
-Brisbane 12/7/2013 6:00 12/7/2013 14:00
-Noumea 12/9/2013 15:00 12/9/2013 22:00
– Lifou 12/10/2013 8:00 12/10/2013 17:00
-Port Vila 12/11/2013 8:00 12/11/2013 17:00

-Brisbane 12/14/2013 6:00 12/14/2013 14:00
-Airlie Beach 12/16/2013 7:00 12/16/2013 16:00
-Yorkey’s Knob 12/17/2013 9:00 12/17/2013 18:30

– Port Douglas 12/18/2013 8:00 12/18/2013 18:00
-Willis Island 12/19/2013 10:00 12/19/2013 11:00
-Brisbane 12/21/2013 6:00 12/21/2013 14:00
– Isle Of Pines 12/24/2013 8:00 12/24/2013 17:00
-Mystery Island 12/25/2013 8:00 12/25/2013 18:00
– Port Vila 12/26/2013 8:00 12/26/2013 18:00
-Lifou 12/27/2013 8:00 12/27/2013 17:00
-Brisbane 12/30/2013 6:00 12/30/2013 14:00
-Isle Of Pines 1/2/2014 8:00 1/2/2014 17:00
-Mystery Island 1/3/2014 8:00 1/3/2014 17:00
– Suva (FIJI) 1/5/2014 8:00 1/5/2014 18:00
– Port Denarau 1/6/2014 8:00 1/6/2014 18:30
-Port Vila 1/8/2014 8:00 1/8/2014 17:00
– Brisbane 1/11/2014 6:00 1/11/2014 14:00
– Noumea 1/13/2014 15:00 1/13/2014 22:00
– Lifou 1/14/2014 8:00 1/14/2014 17:00
-Port Vila 1/15/2014 8:00 1/15/2014 17:00
– Brisbane 1/18/2014 6:00 1/18/2014 14:00
-Airlie Beach 1/20/2014 7:00 1/20/2014 16:00

-Yorkey’s Knob 1/21/2014 9:00 1/21/2014 18:30
-Port Douglas 1/22/2014 8:00 1/22/2014 18:00
– Willis Island 1/23/2014 10:00 1/23/2014 11:00
-Brisbane 1/25/2014 6:00 1/25/2014 16:00
– Brisbane 1/28/2014 6:00 1/28/2014 16:00
-Brisbane 2/1/2014 6:00 2/1/2014 14:00
-Noumea 2/3/2014 15:00 2/3/2014 22:00
-Lifou 2/4/2014 8:00 2/4/2014 17:00
-Port Vila 2/5/2014 8:00 2/5/2014 17:00
-Brisbane 2/8/2014 6:00 2/8/2014 14:00
-Noumea 2/10/2014 15:00 2/10/2014 22:00
-Lifou 2/11/2014 8:00 2/11/2014 17:00
-Port Vila 2/12/2014 8:00 2/12/2014 17:00

Brisbane 2/15/2014 6:00 2/15/2014 14:00

“Be creedless; …

“Be creedless; that is, be intelligent enough to make adaptations without dependence upon some formula.
Be self-reliant; that is, be not dependent upon supernatural agency for intellectual support or moral guidance.
Be critical; that is, question assumptions and seek certitude scientifically.
Be tolerant; that is, be open-minded and hold conclusions tentatively.
Be active; that is, live today and grow by exercising his capacities.
Be efficient; that is, accomplish the most with the least effort.
Be versatile; that is, vary his interests to attain a variety of interesting thoughts.
Be cooperative; that is, find some of his satisfactions in social activities.
Be appreciative; that is, make the present enjoyable by his attitude.
Be idealistic; that is, create and live by ideals which he finds inspiring.”
-Archie J. Bahm

Something I came across a few months ago that I absolutely love.  In my opinion, a great reminder of how to try and live a full and successful life.

“I’ve been making a list of the things they don’t teach you at school.  They don’t teach you how to love somebody.  They don’t teach you how to be famous.  They don’t teach you how to be rich or how to be poor.  They don’t teach you how to walk away from someone you don’t love any longer.  They don’t teach you how to know what’s going on in someone else’s mind.  They don’t teach you what yo say to someone who’s dying.  They don’t teach you anything worth knowing.”

-Neil Gaiman

Read this today and thought that Gaiman makes a great point.  Formal education can only do so much for a person.  We live in a world that prides itself on schooling- on degrees. on the hours spent with your nose in a book memorizing.  But in the end maybe that doesn’t have as much value as society leads us to believe.  Throughout our lives we are going to have to deal with things, hared things, for the first time and the only way to face these things is head on.  We can only hope that as we experience more we deal with difficult situations better the next time.

“With mindfulness, strive.”


Hi All,

I figured the easiest way to stop answering the same questions over and over was to answer them in one singular location. I must give a Shout-out and credit for this idea to my good friend Rachel Gulden.  She just left to teach English abroad in Japan for a year.  Wish her the best.  She is also blogging about her experience there so feel free to check out her blog…http://thejetlifeblog.wordpress.com
Now onto the most common questions:

Who am I working for?
I am employed by Princess Australia (based out of Brisbane Australia) which is a sister company of Princess Cruise line (based out of Los Angeles)

Am I crazy/ have I not heard about all the problems cruise ships have been having?
I have heard all about the problems that cruise ships (mostly Carnival) have been having lately.  But I think that where ever there is a chance for a life changing experience there should be and will be risk.  Also, cars collide, plans crash, and we continue to drive and fly.

Why did I decide to work on a Cruise ship for at least 6 months of my life?
I was sitting at work a few months ago and realized how miserable I was.  It was a shame because the people I worked with were great but the daily tasks of the job just weren’t for me.  I started thinking ‘Todd, what do you really want to do?’ And I realized I wanted to travel and work with people.  I started researching travel jobs and “cruise ship worker” kept coming up so I started to look into it and it peaked my interest.

What am I most excited for?
As corny as it sounds, I think I”m most excited for a new and completely different experience.  I can’t wait to meet new people from all over, be exposed to different views, beliefs, and experiences.  Can’t leave out the scenery, spending New Years in Fiji doesn’t sound like a bad option.  Also it’s a great chance to save up some money.  It’s exciting and nerve wrecking to realize that in less than a month my life will be COMPLETELY different than it is now.  And depending who you ask you’ll get a different response to that feeling.

How did I get a job on a cruise ship?
While I was at Creighton and even since I have done a lot of volunteer work with kids.  My experience ranges from working with abused and neglected kids, Cornhusker Boys State, tutoring kids at Kellom elementary, and coaching YMCA flag football and basketball teams.  I was able to compile a full resume and then proceeded to apply at each major cruise line and even e-mailed a bunch of HR people directly.  Out of no where I had 2 skype interviews with Disney and with Princess.  I decided that Princess seemed like a better fit so I went for it.

Are there any perks to working on a cruise line?
Well apart from the obvious (traveling) there are some other cool things about it.  I have free room and board (free meals and a place to sleep), they pay for my flight there and back (from Omaha about a $2500 value), I get discounts in the store and on the shore excursions, and I have free company health coverage.

When do I leave/ start on the ship?
I fly out of Omaha on August 28th and start on the ship September 1st.

How long is the flight?
Though I haven’t seen my flight schedule yet its about 3 hours from Omaha to LA and another 11 or so from LA to Brisbane.

When do I get back to the States?
My last day on the ship is February 15th 2014 (tentatively)

Which ship will I be on?
I will be on the Pacific Dawn cruise ship based out of Brisbane, Australia.

Who is the average Pacific Dawn passenger?
A large majority of the passengers on the ship are Australian, New Zealand, or British.

Who is all on the ship?
The average cruise has 2000 people and 700 employees.

Do I get sea sick?
Nope never have.

What is the ship like?
Thanks to youtube I can show you… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhQd38rMv1s

Where does the ship go?
I hope to post an itinerary sooner rather than later but for the most part the ship sails around Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia, Vanuatu.  If you have some free time I recommend google image New Caledonia and Vanuatu.

What will I be doing on the ship?
I was hired as a Youth Staffer in the ‘Teen Division.’  I will be responsible for the teenagers on the ship once their parents drop them off in the youth center along with 3 or 4 other people.  I get to help oversee the activities they participate in such as: sports competitions, late night movies, pizza and mocktail parties, karaoke and lip-sync shows, vegas night, talent shows, dance class/ parties, and theme night.

What are the hours like?
Sea Days:
10 am- 12 pm
2 pm- 6 pm
7 pm- 1 am

Port days:
2 pm- 6 pm
7 pm- 1am

Will you ever be allowed off the ship?
In short yes.  Though there are regulations stating that a certain amount of crew members must be on the ship at all times it goes on a rotational basis.  Also we go to most of the ports more than once ensuring that I will be able to see each port at least once.

Am I going to be stuck working the entire time I’m on the ship?
In short no.  The ship is equipped with things such as a crew lounge, crew gym, and crew bar.  We are even allowed to take in the shows and entertainment if they are not sold out.

What is the time difference?
Brisbane is 15 hours ahead of central standard time.

How can I be contacted?
The easiest way to contact me (at least at first) will be via e-mail.  My e-mail is toddsmidt@gmail.com .  Skype is also an option, search Todd Smidt or Smidty4423.  Any smart phone user with the app Viber can call/text me when I’m connected to wi-fi through that app I will be able to respond.  I am also looking into google voice which would allow me to use my phone exactly how I do here in the States.  Also I plan on checking facebook (Todd Smidt), twitter (Real_Aristotle), instagram (toddsmidt) and snapchat (trsmidt).

If you have any questions I didn’t address feel free to leave them in the comment section and I will respond ASAP!

Keep in touch!



“With mindfulness, strive.”

George Saunder’s Advice to Graduates

As I was stumbling around the internet today I came across this article in the New York Times.  Got to admit, after reading it I really started analyzing how I treat others.  We need to realize that we are all in this together and what are we here for if not to help others or make their lives easier in some way.  I”m all for individual success and accomplishments but at times I believe our selfishness does more harm than good.  So please read on, I’m positive you won’t regret it:

George Saunder’s Advice to Graduates

It’s long past graduation season, but we recently learned that George Saunders delivered the convocation speech at Syracuse University for the class of 2013, and George was kind enough to send it our way and allow us to reprint it here. The speech touches on some of the moments in his life and larger themes (in his life and work) that George spoke about in the profile we ran back in January- the need for kindness and all the things working against our actually achieving it, the risk in focusing too much on “success,” the trouble with swimming in a river full of monkey feces.

George SaundersDamon Winter/The New York Times George Saunders

The entire speech, graduation season or not, is well worth reading, and is included below.

Down through the ages, a traditional form has evolved for this type of speech, which is: Some old fart, his best years behind him, who, over the course of his life, has made a series of dreadful mistakes (that would be me), gives heartfelt advice to a group of shining, energetic young people, with all of their best years ahead of them (that would be you).

And I intend to respect that tradition.

Now, one useful thing you can do with an old person, in addition to borrowing money from them, or asking them to do one of their old-time “dances,” so you can watch, while laughing, is ask: “Looking back, what do you regret?”  And they’ll tell you.  Sometimes, as you know, they’ll tell you even if you haven’t asked.  Sometimes, even when you’ve specifically requested they not tell you, they’ll tell you.

So: What do I regret?  Being poor from time to time?  Not really.  Working terrible jobs, like “knuckle-puller in a slaughterhouse?”  (And don’t even ASK what that entails.)  No.  I don’t regret that.  Skinny-dipping in a river in Sumatra, a little buzzed, and looking up and seeing like 300 monkeys sitting on a pipeline, pooping down into the river, the river in which I was swimming, with my mouth open, naked?  And getting deathly ill afterwards, and staying sick for the next seven months?  Not so much.  Do I regret the occasional humiliation?  Like once, playing hockey in front of a big crowd, including this girl I really liked, I somehow managed, while falling and emitting this weird whooping noise, to score on my own goalie, while also sending my stick flying into the crowd, nearly hitting that girl?  No.  I don’t even regret that.

But here’s something I do regret:

In seventh grade, this new kid joined our class.  In the interest of confidentiality, her Convocation Speech name will be “ELLEN.”  ELLEN was small, shy.  She wore these blue cat’s-eye glasses that, at the time, only old ladies wore.  When nervous, which was pretty much always, she had a habit of taking a strand of hair into her mouth and chewing on it.

So she came to our school and our neighborhood, and was mostly ignored, occasionally teased (“Your hair taste good?” – that sort of thing).  I could see this hurt her.  I still remember the way she’d look after such an insult: eyes cast down, a little gut-kicked, as if, having just been reminded of her place in things, she was trying, as much as possible, to disappear.  After awhile she’d drift away, hair-strand still in her mouth.  At home, I imagined, after school, her mother would say, you know: “How was your day, sweetie?” and she’d say, “Oh, fine.”  And her mother would say, “Making any friends?” and she’d go, “Sure, lots.”

Sometimes I’d see her hanging around alone in her front yard, as if afraid to leave it.

And then – they moved.  That was it.  No tragedy, no big final hazing.

One day she was there, next day she wasn’t.

End of story.

Now, why do I regret that?  Why, forty-two years later, am I still thinking about it?  Relative to most of the other kids, I was actually pretty nice to her.  I never said an unkind word to her.  In fact, I sometimes even (mildly) defended her.

But still.  It bothers me.

So here’s something I know to be true, although it’s a little corny, and I don’t quite know what to do with it:

What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. 

Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded…sensibly.  Reservedly.  Mildly.

Or, to look at it from the other end of the telescope:  Who, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth?

Those who were kindest to you, I bet.

It’s a little facile, maybe, and certainly hard to implement, but I’d say, as a goal in life, you could do worse than: Try to be kinder.

Now, the million-dollar question:  What’s our problem?  Why aren’t we kinder?

Here’s what I think:

Each of us is born with a series of built-in confusions that are probably somehow Darwinian.  These are: (1) we’re central to the universe (that is, our personal story is the main and most interesting story, the only story, really); (2) we’re separate from the universe (there’s US and then, out there, all that other junk – dogs and swing-sets, and the State of Nebraska and low-hanging clouds and, you know, other people), and (3) we’re permanent (death is real, o.k., sure – for you, but not for me).

Now, we don’t really believe these things – intellectually we know better – but we believe them viscerally, and live by them, and they cause us to prioritize our own needs over the needs of others, even though what we really want, in our hearts, is to be less selfish, more aware of what’s actually happening in the present moment, more open, and more loving.

So, the second million-dollar question:  How might we DO this?  How might we become more loving, more open, less selfish, more present, less delusional, etc., etc?

Well, yes, good question.

Unfortunately, I only have three minutes left.

So let me just say this.  There are ways.  You already know that because, in your life, there have been High Kindness periods and Low Kindness periods, and you know what inclined you toward the former and away from the latter.  Education is good; immersing ourselves in a work of art: good; prayer is good; meditation’s good; a frank talk with a dear friend;  establishing ourselves in some kind of spiritual tradition – recognizing that there have been countless really smart people before us who have asked these same questions and left behind answers for us.

Because kindness, it turns out, is hard – it starts out all rainbows and puppy dogs, and expands to include…well, everything.

One thing in our favor:  some of this “becoming kinder” happens naturally, with age.  It might be a simple matter of attrition:  as we get older, we come to see how useless it is to be selfish – how illogical, really.  We come to love other people and are thereby counter-instructed in our own centrality.  We get our butts kicked by real life, and people come to our defense, and help us, and we learn that we’re not separate, and don’t want to be.  We see people near and dear to us dropping away, and are gradually convinced that maybe we too will drop away (someday, a long time from now).  Most people, as they age, become less selfish and more loving.  I think this is true.  The great Syracuse poet, Hayden Carruth, said, in a poem written near the end of his life, that he was “mostly Love, now.”

And so, a prediction, and my heartfelt wish for you: as you get older, your self will diminish and you will grow in love.  YOU will gradually be replaced by LOVE.   If you have kids, that will be a huge moment in your process of self-diminishment.  You really won’t care what happens to YOU, as long as they benefit.  That’s one reason your parents are so proud and happy today.  One of their fondest dreams has come true: you have accomplished something difficult and tangible that has enlarged you as a person and will make your life better, from here on in, forever.

Congratulations, by the way.

When young, we’re anxious – understandably – to find out if we’ve got what it takes.  Can we succeed?  Can we build a viable life for ourselves?  But you – in particular you, of this generation – may have noticed a certain cyclical quality to ambition.  You do well in high-school, in hopes of getting into a good college, so you can do well in the good college, in the hopes of getting a good job, so you can do well in the good job so you can….

And this is actually O.K.  If we’re going to become kinder, that process has to include taking ourselves seriously – as doers, as accomplishers, as dreamers.  We have to do that, to be our best selves.

Still, accomplishment is unreliable.  “Succeeding,” whatever that might mean to you, is hard, and the need to do so constantly renews itself (success is like a mountain that keeps growing ahead of you as you hike it), and there’s the very real danger that “succeeding” will take up your whole life, while the big questions go untended.

So, quick, end-of-speech advice: Since, according to me, your life is going to be a gradual process of becoming kinder and more loving: Hurry up.  Speed it along.  Start right now.  There’s a confusion in each of us, a sickness, really: selfishness.  But there’s also a cure.  So be a good and proactive and even somewhat desperate patient on your own behalf – seek out the most efficacious anti-selfishness medicines, energetically, for the rest of your life.

Do all the other things, the ambitious things – travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes, swim naked in wild jungle rivers (after first having it tested for monkey poop) – but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness.  Do those things that incline you toward the big questions, and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial.  That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality – your soul, if you will – is as bright and shining as any that has ever been.  Bright as Shakespeare’s, bright as Gandhi’s, bright as Mother Theresa’s.  Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret luminous place.  Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly.

And someday, in 80 years, when you’re 100, and I’m 134, and we’re both so kind and loving we’re nearly unbearable, drop me a line, let me know how your life has been.  I hope you will say: It has been so wonderful.

Congratulations, Class of 2013.

I wish you great happiness, all the luck in the world, and a beautiful summer.

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As always,

“With mindfulness, strive”