Graduation Feat

July 16, 2007
Braulio Ramirez

More than 1,700 students graduated from the University of California, Berkeley today. The ceremony was held at the Greek Theater on the Berkeley campus. At least 7,000 spectators turned out to watch the event, said Berkeley Chancellor Stephanie Martin.

It was the 117th Berkeley commencement. Among the graduating students were 67 Ph.D. candidates. Another 626 received master’s degrees. Students received degrees in fields ranging from archaeology to zoology.

Novelist and essayist Anne Lamott gave the commencement address. Lamott encouraged the students to discard that willingness to please other and simply pursue their own personal dreams and aspirations. She explained how society rules success to revolve around money, a constructed career, and etc.

“Your problem is how you are going to spend this one odd and precious life you have been issued,” Lamott said. “Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over people and circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.”

In her insightful speech, Lamott also included a self-deprecating note. She tried to find success in her career path, the kind of success that is overrated.

“I’d been wanting to be a successful author my whole life,” she said, and compared her quest to ‘a greyhound catching the mechanical rabbit.’

Lamott continued evoking a sense of truth to the students. She tried to make them understand what is worth seeking.

“What you’re looking for is already inside you. You’ve heard this before, but the holy thing inside you really is that which causes you to seek it,” she explained. “The best job in the world can’t give it to you. Neither can success, or fame, or financial security…”

Lamott explained the subtlety of the spirit in everyone. She told students that we demonstrate that spirit inside us not by what we are but by what we do.

“We can see spirit made visible in people being kind to each other, especially when it’s a really busy person, taking care of a needy annoying person.”

Sometimes we see that subtlety being worked by us on our own spirit.

“Or even if it’s terribly important you, stopping to take care of pitiful, pathetic you. In fact, that’s often when we see spirit most brightly.”

The published writer emphasized how the expectation of our parents and others is not really what will fulfill us. She continuously implied that they (the students) have accomplished a great deal already, and now it is time to seek the truth about their identity.

“You are spirit. You are love, and while it is increasingly hard to believe during this presidency, you are free,” she said.
But above all else, wear comfortable pants.

“Promise me that you’ll never wear pants that bind or tug or hurt, pants that have an opinion about how much you’ve just eaten,” she said. “The pants may be lying! There is way too much lying and scolding and going on politically right now without your pants getting in on the act, too.”

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