Friday, May 29, 2015

One in a crowd

Graduation day arrived early for S. He finished up his B.F.A at New York University in 3 years instead of 4, after carefully hoarding credits for his high school courses and overloading a couple of semesters.Now on into the big (not yet bad) world for a gap year of sorts, after graduation rather than before.

He stays on in Manhattan, not too far from where we dropped him off as a freshman, pursuing internships and jobs in film. Opportunities galore, but who knows what will click for him.

At the Yankee stadium, cheers rose and fell in various sections, as the president of NYU conferred degrees on the one representative student from each of the many schools that constitute the university. S was a tiny black and purple dot in a sea of purple. 8000 graduates, and 27000 near and dear.

 You are special, graduate, but you are not. Remember that you are a unique individual, who has attained another pinnacle in your life. Go forth and do great things. But remember that you are also one of a great mass of humanity. There will be struggles, contests to survive, in a tough job market where thousands of others like you are vying for the same jobs. But there will always be opportunities, if you can seize them.

A couple of days later, we left NY with the pithy salty words of advice from Robert De Niro ringing in our ears.
Robert De Niro stated the truth at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts graduation on Friday: "You made it — and, you're f—ed."
At the Madison Square Garden-set ceremony, he bluntly noted that graduates with degrees in nursing, dentistry, business, law and education all have a future of stability ahead of them — a choice those other students made using reason and logic, but one that the crop of performers could not ever make.
"You discovered a talent, developed an ambition and recognized your passion. When you feel that, you can't fight it — you just go with it," he explained. "When it comes to the arts, passion should always trump common sense. You aren't just following dreams, you're reaching for your destiny. ... You're an artist — yeah, you're f—d. The good news is that's not a bad place to start."
Our consolation was the words he ended his advice with:
The actor suggested a mantra for the new grads: "Next!" a phrase to be shouted when "you didn't get that part" or "you didn't get that waiter's job at the White Oak Tavern. ...  There will be times when your best isn't good enough. There can be many reasons for this, but as long as you give your best, it's okay. Did you get straight A's in school? If you did, good for you, congratulations. But in the real world, you'll never get straight A's again."
So, S, and all other hopefuls on the world's stage out there, break a leg!