Saturday, April 23, 2022

commencement day

The amazing Robert Pinsky, our commencement speaker today, gave a talk he'd titled "A good idea, a bad idea, and a joke." The joke, he warned us, was unfunny but would save everyone thousands of dollars and many hours of psychotherapy. Here's a paraphrase. Patient tells the doctor: "it hurts when I do this..." Doctor replies: "Then don't do it."

But an unscripted funny moment was when Pinsky was describing how hair sprouts on the human body, using his fingers to mime sprouting at his head, then his armpits, and then the whole auditorium kind of held their breath wondering if he would go further. (He didn't). 

It was bittersweet saying goodbye to advisees and students who graduated today. I went in early to finish writing congratulation cards in my office and was touched to find cards students had crammed into the doorjamb or slid under the door. I thought I knew whom they might be from as I collected them, but I was wrong. None were from advisees or people I had done big, important things with/for. For the most part, these cards referenced small conversations and interactions. I kind of sat with that for a while. The idea that small things had been so important in someone's life made me feel... TBH... a bit anxious, actually. It's easier to do a finite number of big things than it would be to be open and supportive all the time. 

Pic: A screengrab of me doing the faculty marshal thing with the staff/mace and all. I kind of like the extra shoulder width and overall height academic regalia gives me.

And I couldn't help remembering that this happened at last year's graduation.

 

3 comments:

Nicole MacPherson said...

Fantastic reminder that small things are big things! Sometimes a small gesture can change everything - happy commencement day!

Gillian said...

You look grand.

StephLove said...

Wow, graduation already, in April. I don't think anyone is open and supportive all the time, but based on the notes my guess is you exceed the norm.

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