Hello Internet! I would like to share with you the speech that I gave this past Friday, May 29, at the Laguna Seca raceway for the Pacific Grove High School Class of 2020 graduation ceremony. You may also read an article on my speech by the Monterey County Weekly here. The text of the speech follows.

If you had told me three months ago that we would be taking a victory lap together at the Laguna Seca speedway in lieu of a normal graduation, and that our beloved teachers, administrators, and PTA members would work with such dedication so that we may be here on this most auspicious day, I never would have believed you—yet here we are.

The track we’re on now is a defined path, continuing indefinitely lap after lap. People say that, like this track or some formidable mountain to be climbed, life is a journey: you live life to achieve some end goal. The coronavirus prompted me to contemplate that, and I realized that life is really not a journey from point A to point B—life only appears to be a journey if viewed from the perspective of the past with Class of 2020 hindsight, but we don’t walk through life backward—unless, of course, you’re a college tour guide. We walk forward into a world that is constantly evolving. From the Big Bang to the first explosion of life, to where we are today, spontaneity has been the defining principle. Spontaneity—not knowing exactly what is going to happen—is what makes life worth living. 

The second law of thermodynamics states that the disorder of the universe naturally increases over time. And so, by embracing the organic beauty in chaos and in spontaneity, we strive to coexist rather than to conquer; we accept that we are but infinitely small beings in a vast universe. We accept that there are things that are beyond our control, but we see opportunity in taking what we do have, in this moment, and making something of it. Ergo life ceases to be a struggle when you view it as art—not a struggle, but as a story, a song, a dance that is alive and dynamic, with you as the artist. 

So live not for the moment, but in the moment. Live not for fleeting pleasures; live grounded in the present, not consumed by what has been or what will be. Coronavirus prompts us to put things in perspective and to appreciate the special moments of life. What I’m going to remember most from high school won’t be the time I spent studying, but rather the daily occurrences that brought joy: talking with my friends, spending an afternoon on the beach, playing “P.G. Will Shine Tonight” after we scored a touchdown against Carmel.

We will overcome coronavirus. We will overcome climate change. We will turn what is perhaps one of our darkest hours as a species into our finest, because we are not confined to go around and around some preset track; spontaneity allows us to actively shape our future and our places in it. Let us, therefore, join hands—or rather bump fists six feet apart—in a solidarity of love and compassion across every hue of the human rainbow. 

As our monarch butterfly friends exemplify every year, long journeys and difficult burdens are best borne not alone, but together. No matter how hard the going may get, we—the Class of 2020—will always be with you—today, tomorrow, and forever more. So even though you may feel alone, we are always with you in your heart. Remember that as you leave the track.

Go Breakers!

To view the live-streamed broadcast of the speech, please watch the YouTube video below from 11:27 to 17:00.

PGHS’s 2020 graduation ceremony at Laguna Seca raceway.

I also plan on recording a version of the speech and posting it on my own YouTube channel, so stay tuned!

Also, I would like to give a special thanks to the Weekly editor Sara Rubin, photographer Parker Seibold, and journalist Pam Marino. The cover image for this post is property of the Weekly, and I do not intend to claim or market said image as my own property.