A Wiki-mencement Address

graduation appleToday is graduation day at ye olde APU, and it represents my first complete cycle of teaching. The graduating class of 2007 were freshmen in the fall of 2002, when I taught my first class of Intro to Music Tech as an adjunct.

From the very beginning, this blog has tried to give a little something back to the childrens. On this hallowed day, as we pause to reflect on the bounty and beauty of a life unfolding, I wonder if you, the wizened readership of this fine blogging institution, might have a few perfunctory words to pass along to the new generation, coming so eagerly to take your gigs away?

20 thoughts on “A Wiki-mencement Address

  1. michael lee Post author

    I’ll start.

    If you’re a musician, go find yourself an instructor on your instrument right away. It’s attractive at first to think about guiding your own musical development, but except for the most disciplined of you, this quickly becomes an excuse to slack off. Knowing that every 2 weeks, you’re going to pay another $80 to sit with a teacher and present your work keeps you very motivated.

    Especially when that $80 represents 10 hours of slinging White Chocolate Mochas at the local Starbucks.

  2. Zack

    Lord loves a workin’ man; don’t trust whitey; see a doctor and get rid of it.

    Words to live by.

  3. Chad

    I’ll bite.

    If you’re into production, go purchase a pair of Sony MDR-7506 headphones. They cost about a hundred bucks at any Guitar Center or Sam Ash. They’re ubiquitous in pro audio and beyond, you see them everywhere. For $100, you can start training your ears on a piece of gear that you might literally still be using in 25 years, although I go through my pairs about once every three years.

    They sound great on an iPod, as well. All that Bose noise-cancelling crap? Forget it. The Sonys are the the real deal.

  4. Chad

    Ok, I’ll bite again.

    Hello graduate! Right now you feel like you’re the greatest thing since spiced bread, or bread racks, or… something.

    Guess what? You’re not!

    Your ego is a millstone. Your ego lies. Beat it with a stick until it’s begging you for mercy. Embrace the idea that you will be more interesting, more competent, and (most likely, as you are Christians after all) better dressed when you are 30. If you play your cards right, you might even be that much cooler again when you’re 40.

    Isn’t that cool? Isn’t it exciting that your greatest days lay ahead of you instead of the present? The present is soon the past, my friends. Live not in the present, but in the future. Living for the moment means that it’s behind you in a blink. Live for what’s to come, not what is. I believe that if you will live for what’s to come, in the fullness of what that really means, that the present will be that much sweeter.

    Don’t live in the past, either. Run hard, and fast. APU (or any college, for that matter)is a launching pad, so take off. Break free from it’s gravity. Celebrate what has been, as you will surely look back upon these years as some of the very best you had.

    I could go on and on… just do yourself a favor, and kill your ego.

  5. Zack

    After a few years training to be a film editor/general post-production lackie, there’s one tool I use more than any other…

    Remember the triangle of value for your clients. It works like this:

    Draw a triangle. At each point, list one of the following words – Good, Cheap, and Fast. If you have a problem client, refer them to the triangle. Tell them they are allowed to pick two choices, and ONLY two choices…

    If they want it fast and cheap, it ain’t gonna be good.
    If they want it fast and good, it ain’t gonna be cheap.
    If they want it good and cheap, it ain’t gonna be fast.

    Never are there exceptions to this rule. No one gets to pick 3 choices, ever. Period.

  6. aly hawkins

    I’ll go – though not having graduated from college possibly casts any advice I might offer into the “not to be trusted” category.

    - If you end up doing something career-wise that doesn’t even remotely relate to your degree, that’s okay. We set up our educational system in such a way that you probably feel forced to choose what you’re going to do with the rest of your life when you’re only in the first quarter of it – and let’s face it, that’s just mean. We’re sorry. The system is outdated, but old infrastructures die hard. In the meantime, stay open to where your muse, your relationships and your pocketbook take you.

    - Whatever you DO decide to do, stay hip to both the old and the new. If you’re a musician, drag out the old Aaron Copland or early Joni Mitchell once in awhile and subscribe to iTunes’ New Music Tuesday. If you’re a novelist, dust off some Mary Shelley or Jane Austen and subscribe to BN’s Discover Great New Writers. Don’t get stuck in the past OR the present, but let both inform whatever it is you decide to add to the world.

    - Not to contradict Chad here (it’s not the first time), but don’t live so much in the future that you don’t enjoy getting there. The Next Thing isn’t necessarily any better than Now – it’s just next. Zen Master says: The process of now is what decides the future. Enjoy it.

    - Money matters. Learn to deal well with it.

    - Last: You’re not entitled to anything. You may be the second coming of Bill Gates and Bob Dylan all rolled into one, but you still have to earn it – so don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and work for the respect, the position, the paycheck, the fame, the whatever you think you deserve.

    [Man, I feel old.]

  7. Chad

    [quote comment="82229"]

    - Not to contradict Chad here (it’s not the first time), but don’t live so much in the future that you don’t enjoy getting there. The Next Thing isn’t necessarily any better than Now – it’s just next. Zen Master says: The process of now is what decides the future. Enjoy it.
    [/quote]

    Totally. You’re not contradicting me! (I’m contradicting you.) I think that the whole idea for me was that living for the future makes the present more fun, as the anticipation is really the best part. I find that when most people talk about “living in the present,” it seems like what they really mean is reclaiming some sort of experience they had in the past and reliving it. Just my observation… People who live unhealthily in the future wig me out, too. I guess I was kind of badly trying to rephrase CS Lewis’ famous, “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither,” quote.

    I will tell you that Aly and Ash are masters at living in the moment in a healthy way, IMO, in that when you’re hanging out with them, you don’t get the impression that they’d rather be somewhere else, or doing something “Cooler.”

  8. Sharolyn

    Set a definition of success that both you and God are pleased with. (And spouse, if applicable.) You can change the definition every once in a while, and the Earth will still rotate. If you’re ever not sure what to do, refer to definition and its purpose.

    You likely know this by graduation time, but it is difficult to please or impress even a few people at once. So let that go. Appreciate the praise when it comes.

    Set goals so you know when you’ve achieved them. The goal doesn’t have to be lofty. When playing for a bad singer in church, you can say, “My goal is not musical perfection, it is to have fun and hopefully please God.”

    Also, aim for three bedrooms, two cars, and 2.5 kids. (Only kidding.)

  9. ash

    Theology is a fantastic enterprise and quite necessary. Either act on it or forget religion all together. Either one of those choices is better than becoming an arm chair preacher.

  10. corey

    30 is the new 20, so while you’re thinking that in the next 6 months you’re going to graduate and immediately go to the task of saving the world, keep in mind that the only thing that separates you from being a 13 year old is… well, almost nothing. Congratulations and enjoy the REAL education that comes in the next 7 years before you become an adult.

  11. Sharolyn

    [quote post="1398"]Either act on it or forget religion all together.[/quote]

    Wow. Great stuff.

    I was just thinking that since graduation I have noticed that the busiest people I know are often not the happiest people I know.

  12. michael lee Post author

    In the first few years after graduation, my wife and I got caught up in the mode of “life is a footrace”. We kept marking our progress through the stages of success in relation to our friends – who bought their house first (we’re still in last place on that one), who was the first to really nail their career goals, who was the first to start popping out kids.

    It’s a soul-destroying perspective. It causes you to live in perpetual anxiety, it teaches you to trivialize the blessings in hand, and to idealizes the things out of reach.

    Life is not a race. Life is a highway. I wanna ride it all night long.

  13. Matty

    Some of us don’t have car with which to drive that highway. Thanks for rubbin’ that in.

    Professor-frickin’-Lee.

    Hmmph.

  14. June

    When you feel tempted to share what you know about anything, just don’t. At ages 20-23 you think you sound informed when you share what you know. You don’t. Just shut up and everyone will think you’re mature because you’re a little quiet. Quietness is often mistaken for maturity: use it to your advantage and try to not be as impressed with yourself as you actually feel right now. And, if you feel like an idiot, rest assured that you’re not… extreme polar opposite views of oneself are packaged in with your diploma and they will invade your bloodstream periodically for the rest of your life. But it’s ok, really!

  15. Sharolyn

    [quote post="1398"]When you feel tempted to share what you know about anything, just don’t.[/quote]

    This is how I feel about the blog sometimes! :)

  16. Chad

    While all the above advice is excellent, and will help you out if taken, do realize that you’re dealing with a bunch of now late 20s / early 30s / (sigh) mid 30s folks with kids (mostly) who are slightly nostaligic for their pre-kid / pre-responsibility existance and trying to help you avoid mistakes that everyone has to make anyways if they want to be even remotely useful as a person.

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