Commencement 2020

In 2010, I delivered a commencement address to my 416 graduating peers of Moorhead High School. I tried to synthesize some ideas on legacy – and probably only succeeded in putting a few to sleep. Fear not, for I have a much shorter and likely more effective message for this year’s graduates on the 10th anniversary of my own entrance into the ‘real world.’

Class of 2020, let’s get right to the chase. You all want success, happiness, and fulfillment in the life ahead of you. And whether you are headed to college, to the work force, or back to your parents’ basement, I have five key lessons which can ensure you acquire those three ideals:

  1. Avoid all sources of objective truth – This is absolutely paramount if you want to make it in this world. Self authenticating sources of ultimate authority are typically at odds with a rebellious world full of people constantly trying to adapt and change their ‘solid’ grounds, so avoid them at all costs. You do not want to be enslaved by these sources. The key to moving through the world happily is building relationships with people, and in order to tickle their ears with what they want and need to hear to let you into their group, you can’t be fundamentally at odds with everything gripping their soul. Do as they are doing and simply become your own authority. As you shape and mold these thoughts, just be sure to follow my next recommendation …
  2. Listen to people – You have heard it said that you should listen way more than you should talk. Let’s all admit, this can be hard for us to do …just look at (insert name of student who is class clown/popular/can’t shut up but everyone thinks he’s hilarious….then wait for smiles and laughter). Having thrown off the chains of an objective standard for your worldview, you now are free to listen to the people around you and adopt their worldview. Do not, however, hesitate to borrow elements you might like and even need – knowledge, the scientific method, patience, forgiveness, kindness, grace, love, logic, etc. – you can use them, just don’t think too hard about where you got them. Join in the group and don’t question humanity’s movement into a greater good. Be a part of this stream as much as possible. Accept everything – except anything which claims you shouldn’t accept everything. Again, you’ve thrown those shackles away.
  3. Demand things – It is at this point where you maybe were expecting me to lecture you on the benefits of working hard. I’ll admit, in the past, many of our speeches trailed off in such a direction. Some of you will in fact work hard, and this is an honorable thing. However, you should decide to proceed in such a way with caution. There can be much loss and heartbreak if you decide that option. Today, I want to provide you with an alternative route. If you find yourself in a place where you are not happy with your lot in life, do not be timid in demanding what is rightfully yours or what someone may have falsely claimed they “worked” for. Sadly, this movement has not fully been realized, but I think this generation has the chance, if we ‘work hard enough’ to be the group that brings it to full maturity. We can elect leaders who believe this, and they are out there, which is fantastic and not incredibly terrifying in any way. We can ensure that those who come long after us will always receive everything they’ve ever wanted by simply demanding it; we can be the heroes who rally together in the streets and break down the oppression of hard work, dreams, and individual spirit and potential! Who is with me!
  4. Claim your rights as a pot – Some of you might think I’m talking about a different kind of pot here (pause for mild laughter at lame attempt at humor which must accompany every commencement speech). Alas, I’m referring to you as a pot – a created being in this world; it appears science is in fact suggesting we are a derivative of sorts, even if it is a muck of pond scum. Always remember that, even if something did ‘create’ this whole world you are so eager to head out and influence and make your mark on, the real person with autonomous freedom is you, the pot, not some Potter. I think you will find it much more comforting to guide yourself down your own path of ups and downs, which you will undoubtedly face, knowing full well you have autonomous freedom to make your own choices about who you are, the nature of humans, where you want to go, and any other definition of literally anything. Whatever “god” is out there, he has given us all the same things. If there is a god, if there is a Potter, it only makes sense that he should ultimately be bound by us pots – we can write our definitions of love, hate, choice, freedom, upon him. How else can we survive as a society? I think we will all agree the alternative would be frightening: a sovereign, almighty Potter who is acting out his perfect decrees for the lives of only those who by His perfect grace and loving will have drawn to love and submit to him? Again, that is sounding a lot like something you might hear from the “Bible” and if there is any hindrance which will certainly tear apart your worldly aspirations, it is following the words found in that supposed “revelation from God.” Steer clear of those things, pots, and if you need it to help you steer yourself in the right way, don’t worry about smoking a little pot, too. (pause for nervous laughter and glance at police, parents, administration to see if they are ok with comment….)
  5. Keep it quick – We now live in a world where things are at our fingertips and happen in an instant. Thus, you should know that wonderfully deep and beautiful treasures no longer require toil, time, and exhausting efforts of searching in order to acquire! Wisdom, for example, is not a pearl one must dive to the bottom of the ocean for – don’t believe that for a second. If something can’t be explained to you in one sentence, you are not obligated to understand it…and whatever is contained in it can’t be true and …don’t worry, at worst it doesn’t apply to you. If someone has a thought which requires more than a few seconds to express, you ought not to listen. If something in your life does not come to fruition within your attention span, pain threshold, or the strength of your ability to persevere, than don’t worry — it wasn’t worth it. Move on. You aren’t good at it, and that’s ok. Here’s a truth I think will resonate with you: the best things in our world are instantly gratifying. I hope this speech was not so long that you fell asleep and missed that (pause for another groan or laughter).

And so class of 2020 – be kind to our planet (note to self: make sure you say this if feathers appeared to be ruffled…everyone can agree on this and will remember you said it) – be inconsistent in your worldview- be accepting of almost everything – and you will do great. Be well. (wait for roaring applause!) whatever that means (barely heard under roaring applause).

Published by rsederquist

My name is Ryan Sederquist.  I am a man of many passions and dreams, and this website is the outlet for many of them. I am currently teaching 5th grade remotely in the Adams12 school district in Colorado. I have been an elementary music teacher in Alamosa, Colorado, as well as a 7-12 band director at Lake County High School in Leadville, Colorado. I am also in the final, final stages of acquiring my M.S. in Exercise Science from Adams State University. In 2018-2019, we spent a year in Presque Isle, Maine as I coached the UMPI Nordic ski team. I currently live in Leadville, Colorado with my wife Christie, a special education teacher, and our border collie-German shepherd mix, Ajee. Even though it is not my full-time job, ever since I was a child, I had the desire to do one of three things professionally - pro sports, writing about pro sports, or being a radio talk show host. This website is where I pretend to do the latter two, and when I'm out pretending to do the former, I listen to podcasts, think about topics, and pursue my wild dream of someday, at some event, in either running, biking, or skiing, wearing a team USA uniform. This website contains articles, podcasts, pictures, and journal entries that have to do with my passion and involvement in endurance sports. Our flagship project is the Seder Skier Podcast, which talks mostly about nordic skiing and attempts to interview influential individuals in the ski world. I also rant about the Big 4 sports, with a lean towards Minnesota teams (Vikings, Twins, Twolves, and MN Distance Running). I sometimes try to write Sports Illustrated like 'feature' articles about athletes as well. In addition to a focus on sports, you will find the occasional article or show that discusses the intersection of theology and society ...which is ...obviously everywhere. We place these in our Skieologians podcast. The heading at the top of my homepage reads, "Search for Truth. Play with purpose. Strive for success." It is the underlying theme for my coaching philosophy, which can be downloaded from this site. Basically, I'm always looking to search for the truth in my pursuit of knowledge, whether that is knowledge regarding the best methods for waxing skis, training a quarter miler, or defending my Christian apologetic. Searching implies a dedicated pursuit for knowledge, and that is what I'm about and what this site is about, even if it is simply for providing viewers with an accurate description of a product. Play with purpose has to do with living out our passions because they are fun. I ski because its fun. I play music and teach young kids because there is joy in it. This blog is about celebrating the joy and fun that inherently exists in the pursuit of excellence and in the activities themselves. Finally, strive for success is built on the principle that true success is the realization that we gave 100% effort to become the best that we could possible be. It requires 100% in preparation, competition, reflection, mental effort, etc. If something is worth doing, I believe it is worth doing with that level of effort. Someday, I hope to race the Visma Classics - the entire season, wear a Team USA singlet, and have a job that involves writing or talking about sports or theology all day. If you know of any body I can reach out to to help me accomplish these goals, please email me at sederquistrd@grizzlies.adams.edu

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: