Ithaca College 2013 Commencement:
“Wow. Okay, here we are, yes. Thank-you, President Rochon, members of the Board of trustees…the steam faculty, families, parents, grand-parents, irritable siblings, and most importantly, to the most beautiful class of two-thousand-thirteen. Question — yes — how many of you sitting here today are, insecure about your past and uncertain of your future - with no guarantees that what you’ve invested here will reap rewards — how many just, show hands — no, no, not you graduates - I’m talking about the parents. Don’t worry, folks: your children are great. They’ve blossomed, we’ve fertilised the young minds…so graduates I ask you today, for all the times you’ve cried on their shoulders, drained their bank-accounts, wrecked their cars, stand up…stand up, turn around, and give them a thundering round of applause.
Okay, you can sit, thank-you. I’m, erm…I’m so deeply honoured, to be here today — humbled. Emotionally, I will get through this because I’ve been flooded with so many emotions, erm..when they told me I would be inducted into the same Ithaca College Commencement Speaker club as speakers such as ABC News correspondent, David Muir, the brilliant actress, C.C.H Pounder, and Darth Vader himself, James Earl Jones…I was stunned, I was excited, I…I lost my mind a bit. When I told my father, he actually forwarded me the last bill he paid for tuition, at Ithaca College, with all the parking tickets and library fines attached; Dad, you saved them - I don’t know why. And he still hasn’t forgotten that I failed to walk in the graduation with my class but I was here — I was here, nineteen-ninety-one; God, you were all in diapers. Wow! I had on the black gown, I had on the black Converse sneakers, I had on a Los Angeles Lakers t-shirt — no, I’m not a fan, not a fan - I was just going to Los Angeles…but instead of marching in, I sat right over there - at the entrance where I could watch the whole class just pass before me, so I could say good-bye; aw. But when you really think about it, you never really say good-bye to Ithaca, because it’s very likely that what-ever you find best in yourselves - you found right here, and I know I did. So lets go back…as incoming Freshman, August twenty-fourth two-thousand-and-nine, when President Rochon admonished you to — quote - “Pay attention to that shimmering longing for an authentic existence that you find within and try and live that”. When you really think about it, it’s kind of difficult to do. I have been blessed to live my life trying to do just that. By finding my own “authentic existence” — it’s kind of strange — by pretending, playing make-believe. And I came by it very honestly early on. You see, my father had a kids’ show…you’ve never watched it. I know, err..he had props and he had puppets and he stored all of this equipment in his garage and I cannot tell you the amount of times I spent and hours, and the lives I lived among the gas-cans and snow-shovels and snow-tires - playing with those puppets. And doing skits with my sisters. And I learned early on that playing..is so important, so graduates, remember to play. You don’t have to use puppets.
My search for that “authentic existence” earlier involved being a ball-boy for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Los Angeles Dodgers - that was kind of crazy. In fact the essay that I wrote abut being a ball-boy, an athlete, a calling that requires you to be loose and lucky, that essay got me into college..because my S.A.Ts were horrible. Along with some charm and a hour-and-a-half interview - that didn’t help — well it did help, actually. My search took me on a journey from a parking attendant to a house-painter to a props-department assistant, to the guy who hands out towels in the sports club and a guy who drives a truck and tries to sell gourmet food door-to-door; that was tough. You guys have to work. Graduates, you have to earn it. Earn it. No-one is going to give you anything in this life. Earn it…as I switch my page.
My journey also carried me from being beat-up by El Bondi (?), a lover and a murderer on Valentine’s Day, trying to win Lucy’s heart, praying for a film called ‘The Crow’ to just to go away, finding it hard and easy with these girls, to fix it in a suffering man’s way to being a vampire so old that we really stopped counting after awhile. A love-letter so true that even Buffy — she couldn’t get over it. I’m just guessing. That’s my ego talking. A lost city of angels to stories untold…and Officer Down and not to forget: Bones. And a partner so damn stubborn, that it drove me to wear a “cocky” belt-buckle and crazy-socks just to stay sane. I’ve also played an addict and the Antichrist, which the Catholic-school kid in me finds totally gratifying, I must say.
Laughing is essential. Laugh, in your journey. Laugh at yourself, even better. Laugh, graduates, laugh. As an actor I have spent my life — (laughs) ohh..the laugh inside of me is so painful right now — as an actor I’ve spent my life inhabiting other people’s psyches to tell other people’s stories but in doing so I’ve crafted my own story and I have tapped into my own authentic self, and that is what you guys are doing right now. Find that authentic self - and it doesn’t matter if you’re leaving here today and you’re heading right back to your old room at Mom’s house - sorry, Mom. It’s okay. You’re still off on a great adventure in search of you. It really took me getting lost as a Sophomore in Europe to begin that journey - that was a crazy trip. I headed out West after graduation, erm, with my father on a great adventure thinking that I would surely enough get a two-picture deal. But I ended up on a green couch in my sister’s loft in down-town Los Angeles. Yea, it was the single least-comfortable green couch known to man. But it took an earthquake, to get me off that couch. Really! An earthquake; June twenty-eighth nineteen-ninety-one, it knocked me right off that couch and on my arse. You see, fear is such a great motivator so be uncomfortable, it’s okay - it gets you off the couch. Everyday, I would get off that couch and I would put on my suit — actually I had two suits, I would grab my briefcase packed with two-hundred resumes that I’m sure that my mother pressed before I left for Los Angeles. And I would drive to studio back-lots and I would go on in and I would act as if I owned the place; I’d hang on sets, I’d get unintentional cameos in the crowds and then when they called “lunch”, I’d follow the pack to craft-service and I would eat. I mean, why not - it’s free food? You see, I know the ropes, I was in the Communication of Film department here at Ithaca College — (graduates cheer) thank-you — where we worked on small films and wrote small scripts and learned the art of the power of telling stories. And right now - this very second, I — I fear it must sound kind of funny and maybe insignificant to all of you who live in this boguess world of imminent scholars but the power of telling stories..stories, are powerful, and there is power in bringing these stories to life. One of my favourite stories, I’m sure you know this, is Maurice Sendak’s ‘Where The Wild Things Are’, we know the story - it’s a boy, he’s in a wolf’s clothing, he reeks havoc, he gets a time-out, he sails to a jungle-island, encounters malicious beasts, he tames them and then comes back to what feels most authentic to him - home. And a hot-supper prepared by his mother. There are so many real malicious-beasts at work in the world, we’ve seen them all too often. But the most destructive of them all are the monsters born out of our own insecurities. You know them, it’s the negative messages that we give to ourselves - ‘I can’t do this,’ ‘I’m gonna fail,’ ‘I’m not good enough’. Don’t listen to ‘em. Don’t. Block them out. You can tame those thoughts. Don’t be afraid. Fear blocks faith in yourself, it blocks your ability to love, it blocks out the sun..if you let it.
Graduates, be fearless. Live in your own stories, and own them. I have lived in the realm of stories; an actor taps into that thing in one’s self that relates to everyone, and if you don’t, the story we’ll be telling you is false. What connects me to you is what’s essential to all of us, the very essence of all of us - it’s life. Life. Pretending to be someone I’m not relies absolutely on knowing who I really am. I mean, living - really living, is the art of cutting through all the distractions of the day and finding a calm place in your head and in your heart and getting to that core of yourself, where you are most vulnerable. And then own it. If you don’t do that, graduates, our trees will stop growing. We need trees! Live. Recently - a couple months back, I was having one of those horrible days at work - I don’t know, pissed off with grip..said something bad to the accountant..got my wife upset about something, my wife sent me something that was kind of buzzing around the internet - I don’t know exactly where it came from but it kinda felt right to me and I wanted to share that with you, today. And it goes a little something like that - ‘There comes a time in life when you walk away from all the drama that people create, surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Forget the bad, focus on the good. Love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don’t. Life is too short to be anything but happy’.
Love, graduates. Love yourselves, love people, love your neighbours. Do what you love, but don’t ever stop asking yourself what you wanna be when you grow-up. Sure, I wanna be an actor, I wanna be a director, I wanna be a producer, but I still wanna be that cowboy for hire. I mean, really, trust that what you love doing the most, is what you’re meant to do. Making life on this planet safer and saner and more adjust, make that your pole-star. Whether you plan on building a well in Africa or build a more inclusive country, or build on your big idea - the dance-floor of life is yours for the taking. Get out there! Learn the moves, remember to strap on shoes that fit you. It’s very important, not the ones that are perfect for someone else. Your turn on the dance-floor, it won’t be a minute Waltz, more like a dance-marathon; we’ll dance later. Consider life a dance-floor and you will glide your way through anything - just like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - who did everything Fred did but she did it backwards and in high-heels. Dance. Wear comfortable shoes, graduates. Love life. Laugh.
Four years ago, President Rochon invited you to find your authentic self. Today, I challenge you, to live it. Keep living it. Keep loving it. Keep dancing with it. And most importantly, keep laughing with it. Hold onto it, ‘cause soon you will all concur the world; feeling that freedom you felt riding your mountain bike, right? Over through the gorges, over to Lake Cayuga and past Buttermilk Falls, jumping off those cliffs. I know you did it. I’m not gonna tell your parents. You’re gonna make mistakes, make them big. Make huge mistakes. Learn from your mistakes. You’re gonna get side-tracked, everybody gets side-tracked. You might even get cancelled. Don’t take it personally. Please, just get back out there. Because you know what? If you make it through season 2, they — they just might give you guys a spin-off.
Congratulations, graduates, for your amazing accomplishment, thank-you for including me and welcoming me home, it means the world to me. Thank-you so much.”
- David Boreanaz
(P.S - Sorry for any mistakes, it is nearly 4am)