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May 17, 2021 6 mins

In this episode of Commencement: Speeches for the Class of 2021, Academy Award Nominee Minnie Driver draws guidance from the ways that the lives of her parents grew out of brave reactions to the adversity that life threw at them, for the graduating class of 2021.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:07):
To the class of and the family, friends, teachers, and
neighbors who helped them along the way. Congratulations, you did it.
Graduation might look a little different this year, and it'll
almost certainly feel different, but whether you're celebrating with a
small crew in person or gearing up for another virtual event,

this is your moment, which is why we're bringing you
the commencement. You deserve full of wisdom to help you
step into the real world and enter a brand new normal.
And now please welcome Mini Driver. This is Mini Driver.

I firstly want to congratulate you for having graduated under
what have been x extremely challenging circumstances. We don't have
any recent precedent for a pandemic having forced us to
stay at home for fifteen months, but there are parallel
moments of hardship and weirdness, both culturally and socially, which
meant people had to carry on no matter what. My
own dad flew in World War Two. He was just

eighteen when his plane was shot down over the North
Sea in December. Average water temperature was three degrees c
undergrade thirty seven point four degrees fahrenheit. He saved four
men from drowning survived the war, but suffered PTSD in
different ways his whole life. For the woman he married
in not my mother. Her life had been changed utterly,

having assumed she would finish school and marry, only to
find herself leaving school to work through the war, and
then at the end of it there being hardly any
young men left to build a life with. She and
my father decided to get married because it was practical.
Love grew out of that practicality. It was not what
either of them had envisioned. And perhaps that's really what
I want to say to you. You have learned this

past year and a half, happily or not, that circumstance
in life can change in an instant, and that your happiness,
success and growth can only ever come from how you
decide to belly up to it. It's a blessing and
a curse, but I genuinely think it's more of a
blessing to be able to move in a nimble way
through life, to know from the very beginning that you

were in charge of how you metabolize and then synthesize circumstance.
Selling forth into the world in its current circumstance will
require a lot of creative thought. But I have to
tell you from my fifty one year oldvantage point, being
adept at creative thinking is probably the most powerful tool
I've cultivated since I myself graduated. The idea that any

of the business of living is easy is a fallacy
perpetuated by any number of external forces, most of them
wanting you to subscribe or buy something. I wish someone
had told me when I was younger that their sincere
really is no there there, and to let go of
the idea, the fixed idea of there being some arrival

point in life. This is not the same thing as
abandoning the notion of having goals, but rather embracing the
idea that we can be fluid and strong enough to
create what we want within the vicissitudes of life. In
many ways, you have all been prepped and trained to
be ready to make drastic changes at very short notice.
You have all just got on with the rare circumstance

of having had to stay home and learn in your
senior year of college. I wonder if you'll all go
forth into the rest of your lives with the greatest
sense of not taking anything for granted. Another lesson. I
know it's taken me years to learn, and as with
most of the truly useful tricks to living contentedly, successfully
and with meaning, the prescription is mostly counterintuitive, or it's

always sounded that way to me. Imagine what it is
you want, then rigorously take your mind off it, and
concentrate on mining each present moment for what is good, interesting, useful,
and practical. Be ready to change course at a moment's notice,
trusting that there are infinite numbers of pathways to what
you want, not just the one you have become attached to.

I'll leave you with a quick insight from my mom,
who died a month ago at eight four years old,
having lived a glorious, passionate, and wayward life, and his
wisdom is largely the contents of what I've been saying
to you. I called her up about a year ago,
just before the pandemic hit, and I was complaining about
how hard everything felt, how frustrating it was that, at

fifty one, with what is generally perceived as a successful
career behind me, and with huge anticipation for all the
things I still wanted to do, getting work and achieving
goals was an uphill experience. I told her it felt
embarrassing and inappropriate that I still had to hustle so
hard for work and opportunities, that it was a grind

that nothing came easily. She was silent listening to me ver,
and then she said, well, I love the hustle. I
love the grind. The grind is what gets me out
of bed in the morning. And whoever promised you that
it would be easy, why is that your assumption? Ease
is not the end game, men, Playing is the point.

So my hope for you is that you will venture
out into the world, whatever the current topography looks like,
and let yourself and your creativity be the arbiter of
your experience. Let's circumstances be immaterial to your growth. You
are living proof that this is entirely possible. I wish
you every good fortune. You can find the collection of

incredible commencement addresses from all your favorite speakers at the
Commencement Podcast on iHeart Radio or wherever you listen to
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