I have a confession to make.
Every time we have a graduation ceremony, I have the same daydream. It’s very simple. Both Hovi and Rob can’t be found, and somebody has to give a speech. Can you wing it, Jason?
And I hem and I haw, but eventually I agree to try. I reluctantly approach the microphone, stumbling over my words at first, maybe my voice cracks, too, and eventually, with a bit of struggle, I get to the heart of what I’m going to say. This last ceremony, I thought I would say this:
As we’ve all seen repeatedly this past year, there are many terrible things in the world. (And in my head I would be thinking, should I say school shootings, or war, or religious extremists, or racism, or Trump, or just keep it as “terrible things?” And I would decide that there was no need to actually say these things out loud. Everyone would agree, sometimes, sometimes too often, the world can be terrible.) Maybe we’ve only witnessed these things on the news, or maybe terrible things have happened to those you love, or maybe, as I know from being with you for the past year, terrible things have happened directly to you, and you’re left asking yourself, why me? And I’m sorry, but I don’t think I’ll ever have a good answer to that question.
And maybe you’ve found yourself thinking that the world is in a downward spiral, that people are irredeemable, rude, egotistical, petty little jerks, (they are) or that the government is out to get you (it is). And I’m not going to waste your time by suggesting that every challenge is a learning opportunity, because despite their silver linings clouds are still just clouds, and metaphorically speaking, we’d all rather just do without them. And maybe, just maybe (here’s where I really punch them with the sad) you’ve found yourself ready to give up on the world, because from your perspective it can never be made right again.
But you’re wrong (I’d say, trying to find a smile somewhere in between uplifting and like I know something they don’t know, but not in an obnoxious way).
Not to oversimplify our profession, but with your newfound skills as a massage therapist, you get to help make the world right again. With the simple art of caring touch, a person’s life can be changed forever for the better. Even if you’re not treating a specific condition, which you are all trained to do, but if you’re simply just there for another person, you are helping put some black back in the ledger. You are, quite literally, making the world a better place. (At this point I would begin thinking I was being too schmaltzy, but that it would probably play well with this crowd. Keep going!)
So thank you, students, for choosing a career path that makes the world a nicer place to live in. It’s very easy to get depressed at the state of the world, or even just the state of our city, but I take comfort in the fact that I’m part of a practice that helps heal people, both physically and emotionally, and that by teaching you how to do that, maybe, somehow, we’re helping to tip the scales in favor of the good guys. Even if we’re not directly helping one of those poor people on the news, we’re at least doing something good, which I hope, and which I believe, helps to balance the karma of the world.
Thank you, once again, for choosing to do something positive with your lives. (Here I would either pretend to wipe a tear from my eye, or be genuinely moved by my own words and actually wipe a tear away.) It’s been a pleasure teaching all of you, and I look forward to seeing all the good you do for the world.
At this point I would step away from the microphone, and there would be silence, and I would think, oh no, I totally messed that up. But then one student would start clapping, and then another and another, until they are all clapping in unison, and on their feet, and somehow they manage to lift me and carry me through the door, a’la Rudy.
And freeze frame!