Valediction Speech

Not too long ago a family friend approached me. She’s maybe in her forties or fifties and promptly reassured me that it was okay if  I don’t know what I want to do after I graduate because she is still figuring out her life too. This took me by surprise since I would assume that a middle-aged mother of a post-graduate son should have her life planned out by now. I assume that is something we would all expect. This fact may add some fear to our undecided lives, but mostly, it should relieve us. Make us feel okay that we don’t already have our entire lives planned out. Our society puts immensely high pressure on us taking the “correct” classes early in life so we can start to prepare for our career path  for the rest of our lives. But, I’ve got news for you, we are going to be working for the rest of our lives. So, what’s the rush?

Another teacher explained to me her situation when I asked how she became a teacher. Her life was simple. She went to college, switched majors a few times, landed on teaching and is thinking of trying something else again — going back to school. Her life, though, was much more relatable because I realized I wasn’t far behind her. She even staged the question, “who says we have to have only one job?” This really got me thinking, because it’s never occurred to me to have multiple jobs. In my personal experience it’s probably because my parents have had stable jobs through my entire life. In school, too, we are taught and focused to do well so we can eventually have a stable and permanent job. However, we don’t have to. And why wouldn’t we? I’ve much rather learn my entire life instead of being the one who teaches others. I mean eventually a stable job would be nice but not until I figure out what it is I love enough to do the rest of my life. Some people instantly know what they want but I can guarantee at least 99% of students change their major or career path along the way. So don’t be afraid of uncertainty. And mostly, don’t be in a hurry to live life.

I could stand here and tell you all the advice you should listen to and how you should live your life. Presently, that is exactly what I am doing. One thing I have witnessed repeatedly over my short life so far and not without fail is that no matter how much advice you’re given, the best way to learn is to experience things first-hand. My cousin told me high school would go by fast. I believed her but it didn’t change anything. It didn’t go any slower from her having told me. I could have figured it out myself. Life cannot be learned but rather it needs to be experienced.

So as you go today, I hope that you will take all the advice you have ever been given and use it as a guide. With that guide though, you need to decide what is best for you and no amount of advice can determine that. Don’t feel like every advice you hear is true either, because everyone can only give what they have been given. If their experiences are different from yours then it may not apply to you. Advice should be considered but until you have actually experience something for yourself, it seems to not always work the way it should. From today, I encourage every one of us to challenge ourselves by going into the world and experiencing our life. They will all be different but we can only change based on what we have witnessed. One of the best things in life is to help others. Well, if this is the goal then the best way to reach this goal is by helping ourselves first. How are we supposed to give great advice to others if we don’t even know what has or what hasn’t worked for us? We can’t. The more exposure and the more we try experiencing the more we can learn and therefore give.

Find what works for you. Give yourself the exposure to try many things. And unless you’ve already found something you truly care about, keep trying things. Don’t let the structure of school and classes cut you short from experiencing rather than listening and learning.



Constantly, I have to say, “I can’t describe it in words but the feeling is very powerful.” I get this when I hear, see, or read something so beautiful that I wish it would last forever. Once it’s over and reality hits, I realize the precious moment is so far away and I long to be in it instead of witnessing it. I can’t though. This is the moment I wish I could describe with a word. The discovery of something so beautiful that it vibrates your entire body but when it’s over it leaves a disappointing and painful mark because it was too beautiful to end. A strong antonym for “euphoria” would seem to be a close fit for the word I am looking for.

I’ll see if I can explain this better with an example:

A girl has a passion for music. She has been learning music since she was four and loves it so much that she is majoring in music performance. One night, her family receives tickets for an upcoming production of Beauty and the Beast. The night of the play, she listens and falls in love with the music and the story. All night, she is the most joyful creature on earth, hearing wonderful music played by some of the best musicians in the world. After the play is over, though, she cannot help but shed a tear because the performance delighted her soul so much. She wishes to be part of an orchestra so she could be surrounded by amazing music the rest of her life. At present, however, she is not. She is only left to reflect on the memories of the play and the music. Left to reality. The mere word “disappointment” is not strong enough to describe the situation.

I would describe this feeling with the word “weltmesh.”

I suppose Walt Disney World would get some use out of this word because the environment is so lively that it turns everyone into a kid again and everyone feels special and magical. When we are there, we, sadly, understand that the pure joy can’t last forever so we have weltmesh afterwards.


Vincent van Gogh’s “A Pair of Shoes”:

It was mid-September in 1882. I had lodged in Drenthe, Netherlands. This area was to be my home for the next six months. I found little motivation now-a-days. The only thing that kept me going was the paintbrush in my hand, and the inspiration I found in the landscape. I could no longer count on any friends or family members. It was just me, my imagination, and my painting utensils.

Despite my unfortunate events, while visiting the nearby village, I often saw young children ages three to nine savaging the around — no parents were in sight. There was one boy that stood out to me. He was around the age of eight. To this day, I am not sure what it was about him that drew my eyes in his direction out of the entire crowd. Maybe it was the way his hair glowed red in the morning sun. Or the fact that he was separated from the group of children his age. Maybe it was simply because he was the only one sitting. Whatever characteristic of his lead my eyes in his direction, I still remember the scene as if it happened last night. More than anything, I remember the worn out brown boots. They were roughly twice the size of his own feet. As opposed to the other filthy children, none of their shoes could compare. His reminded me of the ones my dad used to wear when he went hunting. There was no hesitation to assume they were not his own. I guessed he didn’t have one pair that belonged to him.

As my painting career continued to downfall, I still looked for inspiration among the mountains and in nature. Every morning at precisely eight I headed to the village hoping to find this inspiration. Every morning, as well, I spotted the little boy in the same position and seat that I originally saw him. I never worked up the courage to go talk to him — ask him how he was doing, where his family was. I regret not doing that. Considering my unfortunate life — expelled by my own family — I can’t even imagine how lonely he felt.

One day, though, he was not sitting in his usual spot. This was weird, indeed, since he had never failed to leave his seat that early in the morning during the six months I lived there. Before I was aware of my actions, I went looking for him. I went up and down the village, and discovered places I never even knew existed. It was about an hour I spent searching for him when, all of a sudden, I landed flat on my face. As I searched for the object that caused me to fall, I saw them. The shoes. The brown, worn out, humongous boots. They were his I was certain. As of himself, I never found nor did I ever discover what happened to him.

What’s in the box?

“Are you sure we’re not lost?” cried my aunt nervously pulling out her map. “Are we even on the correct train?”

After many attempts to reassure her we were in fact on the train to Pittsburgh, she continued to find ways to disagree with me.

I decided to offer one more piece of reassurance when suddenly out of the corner of my eye I notice  an arrow that had not be present before. Believe it or not, it was in fact pointing to Pittsburgh. “Aunt Eldna!” I screamed “I think you were right!”

Instead of jumping out of the train that instant like we should have, she reacted by pridefully proclaiming that she knew she was right the entire time and that I should have listened to her and so on.

“We don’t have time for that! Come on!” I howled attempting to pull her out. Unfortunately, she continued to ramble and I became worried we would get stuck. After many compliments on her “correctness” I proclaimed I would leave without her. When that failed, I stole her silly hat from her head and ran. This, indeed, was a success. She scampered after me with her two stubby legs, but we did not get far enough before I felt the train’s break loosen. We have to jump. I darted back to the last car and as she followed I opened the back door and told her what to do. She stared at me in no less manner than if I had just robbed her house. But now was the only time for the train was still moving fairly slow. Stubbornly, I grabbed her hand and we went down together.

Somewhat successfully we were back on the ground and this time I not only heard about how we got on the wrong train but how I was also the cause for her almost-death. If I had only listened to her from the very beginning we could have saved ourselves from the nonsense that had just occurred. After many arguments on the train I transitioned to ignoring her. This was not an easy task, though, because she talked so loud and the hat which she grabbed from me as soon as we were balanced on our feet again was twice as big as her own head. Whenever I inquired why she wore it she demanded the sun was much stronger in Iowa and resolved she would be blacker than a cow without it.

Once we agreed on the “right” train this time, ungracefully, we stood in another chaos of people. We did not wait long before a young girl caught my attention. She was no more than five years younger than me and seemed to be staring at us. I tried to not stare back but her gaze was very fixed in our direction. Suddenly, she approached us and asked in the kindest manner if we were okay from our scaring flight. Evidently, she had seen our jumping scene and I embarrassingly responded that we were doing fine and thanked her for her worry. She then asked another silly question which I could not have prepared myself for. She requested, “what’s in your box?” Confused, I looked in the direction she was looking. Through all the chaos, the large box I had been carrying was somehow still in my hands. I knew what was in it but decided not to tell her because it was a very expensive present for my cousin’s wedding in Pittsburgh. Since we had oddly become acquainted I did not feel comfortable telling a complete stranger.

Suddenly a thought came to my mind. I remembered taking the item out to show my aunt who demanded she saw the gift we were supposed to deliver together. Swiftly I opened the box and sure enough it was empty. I heavily sighed and declared to the young lady “Apparently, nothing.”

Fellow Bloggers

This student chose a painting of the queen and Hamlet in the queen’s chamber. This painting demonstrates accurate attention to detail including descriptions from the play as well as additional details that are symbolic in some ways.

This student talked about their opinion  on Jackson Pollock’s No. 1 painting. It’s biggest achievement is that it is open for each observer to define what it is. It is left for the audience to create it’s meaning.

This student examines Hamlet’s tragic flaw. It is his inability to act which stems his desire for perfection. Usually planning is considered a strength but in this case it is his weakness.

The Ending

Big Question: While Poem 1’s concern is fear of the lack of time in the future, Poem 2’s concern deals with a regret of past experiences.

Keats Longfellow

One actual sentence = one death, pleasing to the eye (almost perfect box)

Two sentences – past/ future

1 semicolon – midway/ turning point/ present

Not as symmetrical, less pleasing


personification, repetition, tone shift

Imagery, repetition, tone

English sonnet rhyme scheme



Although each section has a pair for Structure, literary device and sound device, I think the best way to organize this essay is before and after the poem’s shift, because that is where their similarities and differences are most prominent.

Thesis: Both poems demonstrate a loss of time but Poem one emphasizes seizing life to initiate a hopeful future while Poem two dwells on the past experiences, causing a fearful future.

  • Body Paragraph: The first chunk of the poems present their similarities because both speaker’s share a dreary tone and pessimistic outlook on life.

– In the first poem there is repetition of the word “never” which affirms the speaker is dwelling more on what he won’t get to do once he dies instead of focusing on what he is still able to do. He talks about the things he will not have the chance of doing as opposed to seeing the value in all the things he can still do.

– Again, in poem two, negative words are repeatedly used such as “not” and “nor” to indicate the speaker is absorbed by the regret and the things not accomplished than the time he still has left.

– Both poems share a dreary tone of self-pity throughout their first chunk which emphasizes their similarities at the beginning. They both focus on what they should have done instead of what they could do.

  • Body Paragraph: The second chunk of the poems highlights their differences as the first poem ends with a hopeful future and the second poem concludes with a fear of the future.

– The structure in poem one is not only much more pleasing to the eyes, with a very symmetrical shape that is box-like with lines in similar lengths, but it also contains only one period and actual sentence. Since the speaker has one life, one chance before he dies, and one death, he has decided to life to the fullest, just as there is only one period.

– The structure in poem two is much more jagged and less symmetrical; the line lengths are uneven and seem to have no defined structure. There also contain two periods: at the beginning and at the end. These are much shorter sentences and indicate his life is much choppier and unorganized just as the sentences are much more abrupt. The only semicolon is in the middle (the half-way point) which represents the present and how he is contemplating his past and has the ability to alter his future but when he doesn’t, the second sentence is just as abrupt and the first.

– The rhyme schemes also help determine where the shift is and in the first poem, after the shift the repetition of the word “when” changes to “then”; instead deciding “when” he will have time, “then” he makes time and begins to see the value in the things he can still do. The tone switches to an appreciated tone. However, the shift in the second poem just switches from regretful to dismal.


Is Hamlet Mad?


  • Hamlet tells his friends that he will pretend to be mad. His act is extremely convincing, though. Is it really an act, or does Hamlet slip into madness during the play?

Hamlet acts insane on purpose. The first time he sees the ghost he confesses to Marcellus and Horatio “How strange or odd some’er I bear myself – As I perchance hereafter shall think meet To put an antic disposition on – ” (I.v.170-172). Here, it is evident that Hamlet’s madness is all an act. However, as the act continues, Hamlet begins to exaggerate his madness. He only acts insane around the people he is trying to fool, though. When Hamlet speaks with Horatio who is aware of the act, Hamlet’s tone changes completely and he speaks truthfully to him admitting “Horatio, thou art e’en as just a man As e’er my conversation coped withal” (III.ii.50-51). If Hamlet were truly mad his plan would not have any method but even Hamlet is aware of his mistakes when he admits “I took thee for thy better” (III.iv.32) when he “accidently” kills Polonius. Hamlet seems embarrassed for a moment which emphasizes his planning instead of a real problem.

Hamlet is playing the role of a villain and his insanity is an excuse to scare and control people. He is spoiled and is used to getting his way so he exaggerates his problems with this mindset; he has never been taught otherwise. An easy way to draw attention is through exaggeration. Hamlet seems to exaggerate his madness to the point that he lives his part just as actors do but Polonius detects “Though this be madness, yet there is method in ’t” (II.ii.202-203). Even Claudius confesses “Nor what he spake, though it lacked form a little, Was not like madness. There’s something in his soul –”(III.i.162-163). Hamlet may be so good at playing a part that it seems he is mad himself; indeed, his talent of memorizing lines and acting fictional roles was discovered when he first met the First Player and gave a speech. Hamlet is obviously not new at pretending to be someone else or knowing how to get what he wants. His madness is merely another one of his spoiled acts. Truly insane people don’t know what they’re doing which is what makes them go crazy; Hamlet knows perfectly well what he is doing.