de la Reza

Winder-Barrow High School class of 2021 valedictorian Jacques de la Reza gives his speech during the school's graduation ceremony Thursday, May 27. 

Hi.

I really wanted to get up here and just read the whole Bee Movie script. It's way more valuable than anything I could tell you. But I can't do that. It would take way too long. I still wanted to talk about the Bee Movie though, because it's really cool. So, if you haven't seen it, like stop listening to me right now, and go watch the Bee Movie. It's exquisite, immaculate, heartwarming, heartbreaking, and other thick words that mean good.

OK, yeah, before I start the real speech, if there is one, let me set the mood. Listen carefully.

I want you to become conscious of your breathing. Think about when you inhale and exhale. You are now mechanically breathing.

Also consider how your tongue is in your mouth. It's very easy to forget it's there. Don't do that.. Please don't forget about your tongue in your mouth.

And if you have glasses. Remember that they're always resting on your face. Feel them on your ears, your nose. Maybe they're sliding down your face. You might need to push them up. Be sure to tend to that.

OK, the mood is now set. If you're still listening, congratulations for making it this far and I'm sorry. but not sorry at all in any way.

Anyway, I'm kind of unqualified to talk about life because I'm a bum, but I'm going to regardless because they said I could. But just take what I say with a grain of salt because it's not like I'm more experienced in life than any of you.

So yeah, I think life is really confusing and absurd. No one really knows what they're doing; we're all just a bunch of inconsequential blips in the flow of eternity. But this life is still pretty OK. We can build planes that go faster than the speed of sound, travel to space, build bombs that can level cities, and yet still laugh at each other's butt ghosts? It's cool.

But on a more serious note, not that butt ghosts aren't a serious matter, as I see it, as time moves forward every decision we make or don't make alters our path and changes our personal reality. As we age, we trade our life potential for experiences, until eventually our life potential runs out and we die. But our life potential doesn't just naturally transfer into experiences. We must actively render one from the other, if not it's completely possible that we'll miss out on the richness of this life. It sounds a bit cliche, but although time remains constant, what we do with it completely depends on us. And we're at a unique point in our lives where we have both the ability to consciously consider the gravity of our actions, and still have broad opportunities and many years ahead of us. The longer we wait, the narrower our potential path will become.

So what I ask of you, as we transition into the not high school world is, do your best to live wholeheartedly. To me, to live wholeheartedly means to throw the weight of your life behind all the decisions you make. To not live just in the depths of your mind, but to strike into the external world around you and exert your will. There will always be uncertainty, and we will always lack complete understanding, but just don't hold back. There's no reason not to be relentless in this life. Don't let the struggles of this world overcome the power of your will.

And we don't have to seek out these great grandiose achievements if we don't want to. You could just act wholeheartedly with your relationships, or your health, or the health of your pet fish. It's just this life is real, and we are real, so we should act like it.

For me, one of the worst feelings I experience is regret, stemming from an action I didn't take, because of hesitation or fear. And conversely I get great joy when I'm able to push through my weakness and take risks to get what I want. I believe when we make our choices wholeheartedly, we can rest assured that even if the risks don't pay off, we did our best with what we had. And if that's the case, then there's no reason to have regret. At the end of your life. I want you to know that you left no stone unturned, and that you squeezed all the lemonade out of this dreadful lemon.

In essence, we must not die wondering if we could have climbed that really cool looking tree, if only we had tried. We must die knowing that we could not climb that really cool looking tree because we tried, and busted our bedonkus.

The only factor in life we truly have control over is ourselves, so let us live boldly and become the best, most epic and cool, rad, powerful, sentient chunks of meat we can be.

OK, I'm done with the lame stuff. Now for what's actually important. I was planning on complaining about how boring our cap and gowns are. Like, we could have had bright pink ones with polka dots, or they could have had sparkles on them, or like a cool cheetah print. But then I was violently struck by the foolishness of my blasphemy

I realized that we're all basically dressed up as sith lords right now, and that is so, so epic. Like I've been wearing a toy lightsaber under my cloak this whole time, and I feel so cool. You should feel cool too. And if you don't, you're wrong.

But yeah, I'm done. I will complete this talky time with the immortal words of some guy named Jeb Bush.

"Please clap."

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