I rediscovered something while trying to write my speech for tonight. History repeats itself. Everything I felt compelled to say I know has been said before and will be said in times to come. I grew dismayed at the thought that the human race has progressed so little that the same advice has as much merit now as it did when it was first given, millenniums ago. Yet there is also a simple beauty in this. It reassures us that humans will always be human, and as a species we will never change. It also reassures us that everyone is experiencing life for the first time, no matter how many generations lie before them. Since we are each seeing life anew, the same truths will occur again and again. These truths have brought us to this point in history; they will carry us for the rest of our lives.
Living is an act of bravery. We must constantly try new things ... the first breath ... the first friendship ... the first time to speak in front of 3,000 people. We are never guaranteed success. It is those who pick themselves up after every failure and try again who will gain the most from their experiences, and will live the fullest lives. Have the courage to know and be the person you are. If you do not know yourself then there is no possibility for you to truly get to know others. Recognize the worth in each person. Though people come in many different forms, be open to them all; they are all equally human. Challenge yourself to experience every day as an opportunity for growth.
Inner motivation is the force that drives us upward and onward. Everyone needs to rely on this force. It does not matter what degree of success or achievement we reach, as long as we try our hardest. You can only be as successful as you make yourself to be. Whether our motivation compels us simply to make it to school each day, or to participate in outside interests with difficult class loads, all people are equal. If you do not let your motivation take you to the level that you could reach, accept that this is your choice; no one else has control over the way you choose to live your life. Find the strength to live each day as you dream it. When one goes wrong, remember that there will be a new day to try again. Every day is a chance to begin a new life. Yet, don't live for tomorrow. Life is incredibly short and there is never any guarantee that tomorrow won't be too late to live out a dream.
As this chapter closes in our lives, it gives way for the opening of many more chapters to come; all of which will bring new challenges. Accomplishing our dreams is what gives meaning to life. The poet Carl Sandburg said, "Nothing happens unless first a dream." It is important for us to dream big and to set goals. Tonight as we build our dreams I would like to leave you with the advice of Bob Marley:
"Life is one big road with lots of signs,
So when you're riding through the ruts, don't you complicate your mind:
Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy!
Don't bury your thoughts; put your vision to reality."
(Benson, a Brainerd High School graduate, finished first in the Class of 2000.)
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