I have to give a huge thank you to President Collado, the senior class officers, and all of Ithaca College for having me here today.
If my parents could have ever known back in 1998 that their tuition money would have led to this—and not me living in their basement, which was their greatest fear, and they actually moved to a house that didn’t have a basement, I think, just so I wouldn’t live in it—their ’98 selves would have been thrilled. And I’m so glad that I get to share this moment with them, my wife Alison, my son Wilder, my own Ithaca tribe, and especially all of you.
We named our son Wilder after a book that I love and a quote in it. Cheryl Strayed is one of my all-time favorite authors, and in her book “Wild” she quotes one of my all-time favorite poets, Mary Oliver. And the quote is: “Tell me, what do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” And that’s the thought I want to talk to you about today.
I also want to add one more thought just because I’m here, and this is a total non sequitur, but my dad’s a dermatologist, and I feel compelled to tell you, you need to not only sunscreen your face, but also your neck, chest and the tops of your hands. No one’s going to tell you this until it’s too late. Start now. It’s going to make all the difference when you’re my age.
Your life is wild and precious. Right now, you are sitting here—six feet apart—with a lot of questions, and a lot of unknowns. More unknowns than ever because of what you’ve been through this year.
I remember being where you are now, 23 years ago. I didn’t think twice about the simple joy of getting to live in our shit-hole house on Prospect—full of awful wicker furniture and a random bird that lived there. Living with my 10 best friends. I didn’t think twice about getting to have my family on campus when I graduated. Or not fearing that on Fountain Day, Senior Splash, we could be transmitting a global disease as we jumped in slightly questionable water together.
We were all very carefree back then—innocently sharing Genny Lights, accidentally peeing on the Textor ball, and tragically puking in a white Toyota Camry. I’m not naming names; everyone here knows who they are.