Stay the Course

This post is the speech I delivered to the New Vistas School Graduating Class of 2011. If you are not familiar with New Vistas, take a moment and visit their website: NewVistasSchool

I hope there will be video available from one of the parents in attendance. I have left this as written for my delivery because I expected some response from the audience at certain points and marked ‘Pause’ to leave adequate space. I did notice that the audience sometimes waited for the real punch line, which left the “Pause” for the fake punchline very empty. I was very relieved to hear their response to the real joke.

Stay the Course

While researching the process of writing a speech, I discovered some thoughts regarding speech length. They are:

• Wedding toast: 2 – 3 minutes (est. 200 to 405 words)
• News conference: 2 – 3 minutes (est. 200 to 405 words)
• Ceremonial speaker: 5 – 7 minutes (est. 500 to 945 words)
• Motivator: 12 – 15 minutes (est. 1200 to 2025 words)
• Standard keynote speaker: 18 – 22 minutes (est. 1800 to 2970 words)

While you may prefer that I deliver a Wedding Toast length speech, and Ms. Morgan would prefer a Keynote length speech; we will compromise and settle for a Motivator speech.


Only 1920 words to go.


Devin Robertson and Thomas Asensio – Graduating Class of 2011

I have noticed that these two young men often interact with each other as brothers. One has a tendency to stay grounded, while the other appreciates a flexible reality. One seems to take to heart that all the world IS a stage, and the other understands the need for the world to have a secure design.

I taught music elective class here at New Vistas and having Devin and Thomas in the class might be best thought of as having two personalities that act as bookends to the remainder of students in our class.

Between Devin’s creative thought (Hey! I have an idea!), and Thomas’ cautioning observations (Oh, Lordy), there became an abundance of discussion; sometimes music related, sometimes firmly entrenched in left field territory.

As You Are, As You Were

Devin Robertson:
• Prefers English, History, Theatre, Music – Fun Oriented
• Very open and forward in his behavior
• Developed a love of guitar and singing
• Admires his Dad
• Would like to write a book
• Concerned about the seriousness of College, Work and Life
Devin is starting to realize that seriousness and play can remain a part of one’s life, even if these concepts are kept separate into adulthood.

Thomas Asensio:
• Admires his parents
• Likes to create physically, to work with his hands
• Relieved to graduate, but also concerned about the difficulty of college and life thereafter.
• Has become more socially interactive
• Usually very agreeable, but has learned to sometimes challenge the perspective of others.

I don’t recall many of the details of one exchange, but on one occasion in music class, Thomas finally made a smarty-pants remark to me. Perhaps it was about a song choice, or in response to a challenge to ‘Rise to the Occasion’ in a performance setting. I remember being so proud that Thomas finally challenged my point. I think I just congratulated him.


Parallel of Devin and Thomas to Me and My Friend Damon

I have a friend, Damon, and we have known each other for 24 years. We met when I moved across the street from him at age 13. We were both into skateboarding and he had a nice, flat driveway.
This was very good for developing many of our tricks and methods of inflicting injury upon ourselves.

Damon and I had many exchanges regarding our different points of view on just about everything. Thomas and Devin have reminded me often of the early years in my relationship with my friend Damon. I was, and remain to be, the one with the ‘crazy’ ideas and the disregard for the complexity in bringing those ideas to reality. Damon still starts every countering suggestion with; “I don’t understand why you just don’t…” and finishes with something that would be far less stressful, will save time, energy, resources, and would meet some, if not most, of my desired goals.

But that’s just BORING!


Thomas’ Career Choice

After his training at CVCC to become a machinist, Thomas will be entering an industry in which my friend Damon has a great job. There is plenty of work to do, and great opportunity to further develop personally and in job-related skills. People like Thomas are those who make it possible for the world to ‘function properly’. The ‘Thomases’ of the world are those who design our buildings, roadways, bridges, and other structures important to society.

Building a nuclear facility should NOT be left to artsy types like me and Devin!


Devin’s Career Choice – When He Decides

Devin’s interest in music, art and theatre may develop into his career. There is no reason he shouldn’t do all of them. Working as a musician and music educator has opportunities that are favorable to people like Devin and I; people who like to change our minds.




Of all the industries in which to be involved, the arts seem to have the most negative attachments: drug addiction, terrible social behavior, low likelihood of smashing success, laziness, being seen as a dime-a-dozen, sleeping on couches at friends’ houses, forgetting instruments in taxis, buses, and trains; being late for gigs, performing in Boise, Idaho during a blizzard to three people in a room that seats five hundred.

It’s a lie! We are NOT lazy!


Just depressed


Becoming a professional in the arts requires as much preparation as does becoming any other professional. There is a great deal of training before being hired can even be considered.

Being able to fall out of bed and produce a top notch performance is just one of many myths about being a performance professional. Many such myths are strongly believed by those not in the industry, as well as those who hire performers, even the performers themselves.

Consider for a moment the difference you might imagine between shoveling coal for three hours and performing a three hour gig.

Which of these would seem to be more difficult?

Most people would consider shoveling coal to be more difficult; especially lazy musicians.


However, three hours of shoveling coal does not require 4-5 years of private lessons with an effective shoveling teacher, finding other shovelers with whom you can shovel your part while they shovel theirs (hopefully with some level of competence), saving up for a that 100-watt shovel amplifier, many stressful hours trying to convince your family and friends that shoveling REALLY IS a sincere form of earning a living.


While other shovelers might sleep on couches and eat out of dumpsters, you are NOT going to be one of THEM because YOU are going to be GREAT!


…but I digress.


The Difference between High-School and Adult Life

(Pause and look around and over crowd, sigh)

The Long Stretch between the Start of Your Career and Retirement

If we start our career between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two, and retire between the ages of sixty-five and seventy, we will work for an average of forty-seven and a half years. That may seem long, but there is a great deal of activity in that span of life.

There are vacations to plan, children to nurture, parents to care for, baseball games to attend, friends to make, friends to lose.

There will be houses and cars to buy, soup kitchens in which to serve, grass to mow, families in need for whom you will raise money or to whom you will deliver a bag of groceries.

Most of us forget that our life is not work and work is not our life. We remember this at the birth of our children, our weddings, our friends’ weddings, the funerals we attend, and other ‘real-life’ moments that illuminate the pettiness of our usual concerns.

‘Stay the Course’ by being diligent and finishing the task at hand.

‘Stay the Course’ by remaining committed to the activity you have chosen when it becomes more difficult than you first imagined.

‘Stay the Course’ by taking the right action for the right purpose when everyone else is just standing and watching.

‘Stay the Course’ by not letting a problem be a stop sign, but an opportunity to discover a solution that you will use again and share with others when YOU are the source of wisdom for a younger generation.

‘Stay the Course’

Playlist for Upcoming Gig

The Playlist

The gig is at a local insurance agency’s Open House/Customer Appreciation Day. Should be fun. Keep in mind that most of the links will likely be blocked or removed before too long; I don’t come back to edit links on old posts. It’s some weird ‘March Forward’ mentality thing. Here is the link to the Gig.

I hope to see you there!