The Graduation Speech (I Wish I Had Given) – Part 2

By July 27th, 2014

Part 2 – Blog Essay – “Just When the Sky Turned Black …” – The Brilliant Advice of a Man Named Dan Lynch — For Us and For Our Children …

by Mack W. Borgen

Blog No. 45

Part 2 of Blog Essay

July 29, 2014


Just When the Sky Turned Black

And The Wind Started To Howl –

The Graduation Speech (I Wish I Had Given)


Mack W. Borgen

 (Author’s Note: Part 1 of this Blog Essay was posted by me as Blog No 43 on July 7, 2014. Part 2 of this Blog Essay is set forth below. Part of this essay is based upon a Personal Newsletter which I wrote about a number of years ago. Because of its length, “Just When the Sky Turned Black and the Wind Started to Howl” is being presented in three sequential Blog postings – Blog 43 (Part 1 – Posted July 7, 2014); Blog 45 (Part 2 – Here Posted July 29, 2014), and a forthcoming blog for Part 3 which will be posted on/about August 20, 2014).

Continuation of Blog No. 43 …

The following article was forwarded to me by my late father (who, God Bless Him, was still trying — after many, many — to keep me in line and set me straight (in the straight and narrow context)).

As you will see, the article was written as an “open letter” to all of those young pups and puppettes who were just graduating from college and were getting ready to stick their proverbial toes in the water. It’s not a magical writing, but amidst the spinning complexities of our cyberspace, multi-cultural, post-modern, Internet-driven, Third Wave twitterverse, the following simple piece deserves a little print.

I don’t mean to suggest it’s a new Desiderata for this generation, but I can remember (a couple of lifetimes ago) my giving of the graduation speech at the University of California at Berkeley. Now and upon reflection, I wish I had given the following speech. But I didn’t. Instead, the “Real-World Advice” was published by some guy named Dan Lynch whose reprinting permission I’d get, if I knew who or where he was.

So here goes. Something simple; something kind of fun. Heck, maybe it’s even useful despite the fact that few of us feel like young grads anymore — even on our good days.

 “Some Real-World Advice for Young Graduates …”

 By Dan Lynch

                 Yet another year has gone by in which nobody asked me to deliver a commencement address.

They usually ask people like federal judges with lifetime jobs, or people so rich and powerful that they don’t have to face the day to day challenges most graduates are likely to confront. The rulers of my college asked Theodore Sorenson, JFK’s advisor and ghost writer. To this day, my most vivid memory of Sorenson’s speech is that he was quite tall.

If someone had asked me to deliver a commencement address this year, this is what I would have said:

“Greetings, I come to you as an advance scout from the real world. It’s filled with pitfalls, injustices, and disappointments. Here are some tips on how to make your way in it with a minimum of hassle:

Remember that there’s no law that requires you to say whatever pops into your head at any given moment. Always change your oil at 3 months or 3,000 miles. Never become romantically involved with anybody you suspect might be crazier than you are. Don’t let anybody con you into paying retail.

Be polite when you’re dealing with jerks.  Keep your tires properly inflated. Always give your job about 10% more effort than you think it really deserves. Start saving money early. Never eat at a place called Mom’s/ If you have any doubt whatever about telling a joke in a particular circumstance, don’t tell it. Just assume that nobody has a sense of humor anymore.

Never play pool with somebody who carries a personal cue in a case. Never play poker for money with anybody who says “Gee, I’m not very good at this game.” Eat fresh fruit and vegetables. Lock your doors at night. Don’t listen to Howard Stern; he’s really a bad influence.

Don’t bother to get even; it seldom works out, and when it does it’s not worth the trouble. Buy in bulk. Use your turn signals. You don’t have to win every argument. Eat slowly and chew thoroughly. Try to be thoughtful. Never, ever say anything like “Go ahead; you wouldn’t have the guts.”

You get older every day; that’s a law. Don’t buy dented canned goods. Get to work on time. Try to avoid telling people that they’re dead wrong, even when they are. When somebody says “Go ahead and tell me the truth; you won’t hurt my feelings,” don’t believe them.

Whenever somebody asks, “How do I look?” or “How did I do?” the only sensible answer is “Terrific.” Bread crumbs make hamburger meat go farther. A little garlic gives it more flavor.  Don’t drink every day. Count your change. Don’t use a radar detector; the cops get seriously annoyed when they pull you over and see one. Never agree to be a guest on Geraldo.

Do it now; there’s not always time later. If it really doesn’t feel right, then don’t do it at all. Your coffee tastes better if you keep the can in the refrigerator. Your car has a parking brake for a reason. Make it a point to listen. People are seldom as impressed by your anger as you think they should be. Go easy on desserts.

Always dress a little better than you think you should have to. Don’t hog the remote. Stay away from coffee after nine at night and alcohol before noon. Always remember that life is in session, right now and until they lower you into your grave.

Dream big dreams for yourself and then act on them with single-minded intensity; even if people think you are crazy. Be willing to defer gratification if you expect to find any at all. Wear seatbelts. It’s never too late to do anything worth doing.

Try hard to be nice to people, especially if you get to be boss. Check your antifreeze level at least once a week. Make sure you turn off the over right away when you pull something out of it.

When you realize you’re having a really good time, pay close attention; you’ll  want to remember it. Go out of your way to stay in touch with people you like. Turn off the headlights when you don’t really need them.

Shine your shoes. Don’t smoke. If it’s over with, don’t worthy about it; just get on with things and remember the lesson. Don’t make the same mistake twice, however tempting. Never make it a third time. Stop at red lights.

Whenever you hear a little voice in your head saying “What if somebody finds out?” then don’t do it., because you can count on somebody finding out. Never give advice unless you’re sure it’s right and the person asking for it is likely to follow it.

Now, go forth into the world and do your damnedest to become somebody really special. You might just get there, and you’ll really kick yourself later if you don’t try.”

The End.


Copyright @ 2014. Mack W. Borgen. All Rights Reserved. No part of this writing shall be reprinted without the prior written consent of the author and Brody & Schmitt Publishers.


Mack W. Borgen Author,

The Relevance of Reason – The Hard Facts and Real Data About the State of Current America

 Book One – Business and Politics (July, 2013) (408 pp)

First Runner-Up, Best Business Book of the Year 2014 Los Angeles Book Festival

Selected As Finalist (Political Science Category) – ForeWord Review’s 2013 National Book Contest


Book Two – Society and Culture (October, 2013) (438 pp)

Best Book of the Year – Popular Culture Cateogry – Bronze Award  – ForeWord Review’s 2013 National Book Contest as Announced at June, 2014 Annual Convention of the American Library Association

Awarded Top 10% Finalist, Eric Hoffer 2014 Book Award

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