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Kenyon Commencement Speech Essay

One of the best commencement speeches that were given was by David Foster Wallace. Many may say that he was a brilliant man, which he truly was. In his speech you can say he gave a life lesson to his graduating class and the people among them. He gave his perspective of what “freedom” really is. Freedom is to be able to care of others instead of just yourself, to be able to be free from your own mind, to be able to change your default setting. You can be in control of your heart and your mind; be their master and be able to command them your wants and needs. Always try to think long and hard about your life decisions and everything that defines who you are. People can agree or disagree with Wallace’s point of view on freedom because freedom is so big and it has different meanings for everyone. To really have freedom and to be able to live the way that you truly want to, is really all up to you. You need to make your life decisions for yourself and keep your fingers crossed that you really have yourself figured out and you’re absolutely sure you know what you’re doing and where your decisions will lead you.

Your mind and your heart are only under your control and they will do as you say. Now we all know that the mind and the heart don’t always get along, one can want one thing and the other one can question that. It’s alright to be confused, but to be able to tell yourself to keep calm and comprehend what is going on with yourself and what is around you will only satisfy you. Wallace states, “This I submit, is the real freedom of real education, of learning how to be well-adjusted. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. You get to decide what to worship” (207). This statement that he made is nothing but true. You should be able to think for yourself and react the way that you feel. Never make a decision based on the decisions of your parents, colleagues, friends, because you can have your own morals and beliefs, and that’s what makes you, you. To have freedom is to be your own person, think logically, and know the right way to react in life.

“It’s the automatic way that I experience the boring, frustrating, crowded parts of adult life when I’m operating the automatic, unconscious belief that I am the center of the world, and that my immediate needs and feeling are what should determine the worlds priorities” (206), says Wallace. In everyone’s head, the world is all about us and we are the center of attention. Most of the time we never think about the people among us and their feeling or situation. It’s easier for us to think about our needs and the situation that we are in that second. Wallace also says how sometimes we need to step out of our own shoes and try to look at the situation from someone else’s point of view. Which just sound brilliant because as much as being “selfish” is in our nature, there might be people in worse situations than us.

It’s always easy for us to complain about our problems, which some people may really have, and others may exaggerate over a break up and think that’s the end of the world. Before doing or saying something you will regret you need to take others in consideration. You can take full control over your mind and instead of reacting the way that you automatically would, you could choose to make the right decision and understand that not everything is always about you. You have the power to control yourself if you really want to. No one really likes to be commanded to do anything. In fact, many of us purposely do the opposite of what we are told to do because we want to be “rebels” or because we want to prove our own point. One thing that is always hard for us to go against is our own mind. It takes dedication and strength to have the courage to fight against your mind, and to be able to change your default setting.

Like it was mentioned earlier, our default setting is mainly to be selfish and think that it’s all about us. “Think of the old cliché about the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master” (202), says Wallace. If you really look deep into this cliché, you really start to realize how much sense it really makes. How amazing would it be if you were always the master of your mind and it always did just as you said. Never would you have to have a default setting of your own, you would be in the setting that you pleased to be in. Most of us suffer in our own thoughts and let our mind take over our whole body. To be able to set yourself free, you need to learn to set yourself free from your own mind.

You need to be the master of your mind instead of being its server. In conclusions, you can say that Wallace was trying to teach his fellow graduating class to learn not to takes things for granted. Freedom is basically all about being able to be well-adjusted. Being able to care for others, put yourself in their shoes and try to make bad situations look better. Our default setting is all about ourselves; how we feel, how we look, what we think, what we want, etc.

To be able to change that default setting and be able to think of others just as much as thinking about yourself would pretty much give you the feeling of being free. To have the power to control your mind instead of being under its control. As we all know, it’s always hard to get your heart and mind to get along and agree. Well, if you truly wanted, you can make them get along. Everyone has their own thoughts about this subject. This commencement speech that Wallace gave about “freedom” was one of his brilliant writing. His speech truly shows how he feels about freedom, and of course he cared enough to inform others about it before they all started a life outside of school.


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