因此，我想先談談這頂帽子。當我抵達時，迎接我的是一位傑出而熱情的女士－Pamela Laurans院長。（歡呼聲）她對我說，「妳想上樓稍做梳洗嗎？」我說，「我想不需要。」她看著我說，「是的，當然，妳已經梳洗過了（washed up，亦有過氣之意）。」（笑聲）Pamela在哪裡？（笑聲）總之，她補償了我，這是她的帽子。（笑聲）（掌聲）
You look absolutely marvelous. What a sight! Good afternoon! Congratulations to this wonderful class of 2012 exuberant graduates, relieved parents, loving friends and exhausted professors. I’m really so honored that you give me the privilege to address me in what is so special a day for you and special to me as well — my hats off to you.
So I wanna tell you first about this hat. When I arrived, I was greeted by a most wonderful and welcoming lady, Master Pamela Laurans, and… who said to me, “Would you like to go upstairs and wash up?” And I said, “I don’t think I need to.” And she said, looking at me, “Yes, you’re right. You are already are washed up.” Where is Pamela? Anyway, she made up for it. This is her hat.
So, as you heard, a few years ago, I wrote my memoir. It was called Audition, because to me, life has been a continuous audition. And while writing the book, I had to do some research of my family, ugh, including my paternal grandmother, Lily, whom I had never met. She was evidently a very elegant and fastidious woman. And on her death bed, she turned to her 7 children and told them that she was a virgin. And they said, “Well, how is that possible? We’re here, 3 sons and 4 daughters. You must have done something with Grandpa.” And she said, “Yes, I did. But I never participated.”
So… So when I was asked if I would come here today to talk with you, I said to myself, “these kids are smarter than I am. These kids are younger than I am. They are better educated, but by god, I am going to participate.”
So… You know it’s a daunting task, because I’m used to talking everyday on television, usually with 4 other women who interrupt me all the time. So today it’s a great joy to be able to speak uninterrupted. But I was trying to think of what I could tell you that’s going to make the least bit of difference in your lives, even 10 minutes from now.
When I went to college, I went to a very small college, called Sarah Lawrence back in the middle ages. I had a professor who became very well-known. His name was Joseph Campbell. And he exhorted us all to follow our bliss. “Do what you love. Follow your bliss. And you’ll truly be successful.” Well, that was a great advice, except when I graduated from college, I hadn’t a clue what I really loved. I had no bliss to follow.
And so when I look at all of you today, I think many of you do know what your bliss is. Graduate school of medicine or law or biology, ecology, sociology — How about none of the above? How many of you in this graduating class truly know what your bliss is? Raise your hands. Isn’t that interesting? Not that great a number. How many of you do not know what your bliss is? Raise your hands. Don’t be afraid. Most of us don’t.
I didn’t find my bliss until I was in my 30s and then by luck, but that’s another story. So when you walk out of here, and everybody, every friend, every family member says: “What are you gonna do? What are you gonna do? What…” Just tell them you haven’t yet found your bliss.
I did finally find my bliss, and I’ve had a professionally blessed life. As you learned, I’ve interviewed every US President and First Lady since Abraham Lincoln. The terrible thing is that there are some of you out there who really believe that. But it’s really been since Richard Nixon, and I have interviewed world leaders from Fidel Castro to Vladimir Putin and this past December series, Bashar al-Assad.
So I should know something about leadership and some message that I could give you. But I decided that what I could offer you most today is the wisdom and the stories of some of the most thoughtful people that I have been fortune enough to talk with over the years. For I think their words, rather than just mine, may help to answer your own questions and your own quest for bliss.
Much of what I would talk to about has to do with choices. And much of what you will be facing tomorrow and then the years ahead are choices. So let’s start at the top with President Barack Obama, as it happens that you’ve heard I interviewed him on The View… ugh… just this past Tuesday. And I asked privately if he had followed his bliss. And he said yes, he became a community organizer.
Then I asked what jobs does he think are available during this tough economic times. And he said the best jobs right now are in science and engineering. If that is your bliss, you are fortunate. You’ll be among the few with a job open for you.
But in the New Year interview, I asked the President, what as a young man he thought he would be doing. And this is what he answered: “I have a bunch of different skills. For a while, I thought that I might end up being an architect. I like the idea of building buildings. I didn’t know what happened to that. I still really admire architects. And I love looking at buildings. Then, for a while, I thought that I might be a basketball player. Until I realized that I wasn’t good enough to be a professional basketball player. I thought I might be a judge. But then (after) I decided I have to go into Law School that (I found) I was probably a little too restless to sit in the bench all day long. The one thing I know I didn’t expect was that I was going to be President of the United States.”
And I said, “Well, when you’ve ain’t got nothing you couldn’t be, the only thing left is to be President, doesn’t it?”
And he said, “Yeah, I guess if you’ve got to find some use for yourself, this isn’t the bad way of doing it.”
From President to a woman who wanted to be President — one day she still may be it — that is our Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, one of the most… one of the most admired women in the world, and her personal story is very much about choices.
At one point in her history, she had one of the biggest choices a person could make: a President’s fall from grace, a marriage in shambles, a nation embarrassed. This is from an interview with Hillary Clinton in 2005: “Your life has been about taking chances and making choices, Mrs. Clinton. What is the biggest choice that you have to make?”
She said, “Staying married to my husband. I’m often asked why Bill and I have to stay together. All I know is that nobody understands me better. No one can make me laugh the way Bill does. Even after all these year, he is still the most interesting, energizing and fully alive person I’ve ever met. Everyone has a choice every single day about how to live your life. And I know that many people looking at my life would say: ‘Oh my goodness! How tough!’ “I look at it differently. I look at the lessons that I’ve learned — the opportunities that I’ve had.”
I asked, “What’s the most important lesson you learned?”
She said, “That Life is a gift, and that we learn as we go. And that love and hope and faith are truly the most important gifts that we can have. And that we can give to one another. And that when something difficult happens, you have to decide what’s important to you — what your priorities are. And you have to listen hard to your own heart. There are always going to be people who have different ideas about decisions and choices that you should make. But ultimately, we are born alone; we die alone. And the life we make, the journey we take is really up to us.”
From Hillary Clinton to the Dalai Lama, he is one of my all-time favorite leaders, a man without a country, a man regarded by many as a God who calls himself a teacher, and was given his title when he was two years old, the exiled Dalai Lama of Tibet. I went to talk with him, in Dharmsala in India, because as you know he has been exiled from Tibet. I went because we were doing a 2-hour special called, Heaven: Where Is It And How Do We Get There? And I talked to a great many religious leaders from the different faiths. Most said the purpose of life is to go to heaven, or to paradise. The Dalai Lama, however, when I essayed: “The purpose of life is to be happy, and how do you get to be happy through compassion?”
He said, “A warm-heartedness — You achieve those qualities in heart by abandoning all negative thoughts and feelings of competition.”
So for about 3 days after the interview, I practiced what Dalai Lama had taught me –I practiced compassion, I was extremely warm-hearted, I was not jealous, I had no negative thinking, I smiled a lot, I was so warm-hearted and I was exceedingly boring!
But, in truth the Dalai Lama did give me a lot to aspire to. It was not a lesson lost. Compassion and warm-heartedness — so simple and so hard to do, but I’ve tried to practice both. And while I’m speaking of compassion, I want to say a few words to this graduating class about friendship.
Look around. Look at the people next to you and the people behind you. The people you see may be the most important take-away of your years here. The friends that you have made here in Yale may be the best experience you could have. And they will continue to be a part of your life, long after you may — heaven forbid — forget the name of your professor, and even whatever he had taught you.
I have little family. I have one daughter. My friends and my family… And your friends have been the steady part of your growing experience here at Yale. Treasure them. Make the effort to stay in touch with them beyond facebook. Treat them with compassion and warm-heartedness, and do not lose your friends from your life.
Well, I wanna talk now about having it all, because men and women today are faced with choices that a lot of your parents and grandparents didn’t have. And that is you want to have a private life that’s important as well as a career. You want to be involved with your children. You don’t want to leave it up to daddy or leave it up to parents, so how do you have it all?
There are still choices that you will make. Yes, one of the greatest problems you will face, and one of the greatest joys and perhaps triumphs is balancing this life: the career, the relationship — whatever it may be — the children. So I thought what I would do, really because I just love it, and it’s fun, (is) to tell you about Katharine Hepburn — do you know who she is? Good, well, some of you might say, “Who? Which? What?” Okay…
She was a great actress. She died in 2003 at the age of 96, and she was a beloved icon and pop, because she was so definite about everything, and she kind of talked like this, and she was very definite. And I remember coming back from the Middle East, and we were talking about something.
She said, “I see things in black and white, don’t you?”
And I said, “I’ve just got back from the Middle East. I’m afraid I see things in shades of grey.”
And she said, “Well, I pity you.”
So I talked with her. She… ugh… had married once very young. Never married again, and had a long affair with the actor Spencer Tracy. So, she had a great career. She never had children, and she did not have a great marriage.
And I said, “Can you have career and a marriage and children?”
And she said, “You couldn’t when I started — at least you couldn’t have a marriage that would please me, because the ladies are going to have to be careful that they don’t all marry morons.”
And I said, “Why?”
She said, “Well, because they don’t deliver the goods as wives. I mean we are very confused, sexually very confused. I mean, look at the birds and the bees in the male and female, and they are very definite types. We are getting awfully confused. I mean, I put on pants 50 years ago and declared a sort of middle road, your know. But I mean I have not lived as a woman. I have lived as a man.”
I said, “How so?”
She said, “Well, I’ve just done what I damn well wanted to, and I made enough money to support myself. And I ain’t afraid of being alone.”
I said, “Is it so hard to have it all — the marriage, the children, the career?” I said, “I think myself — it’s very tough. Much of my life has been a balancing act.”
She said, “It’s impossible. If I were a man, I would not marry a woman with a career, and I would torture myself as a mother. Suppose little Johnny or little Katie have the mumps, and I had an opening night. I’d want to strangle the children. I would really want to strangle the children. And I’d be thinking to myself: ‘God! I’ve gotta get into the mood, and what’s the matter with him, and then out of my way!’ You see!?”
And I said, “If you were a man, you would not marry a woman with a career?”
She said, “I wouldn’t be that big a fool. I’d want her to be interested in me, not a career. And the career is fascinating. I don’t know what the hell the women are going to do.”
Or the man! So welcome to the life of choices. Then, my favorite part of interview did not have to do with choices.
I said to her, “Do you remember the last time we talked? I did something that I have regretted ever since. We were talking about your getting on, and you said rich people don’t… Remember you said: ‘I’m like an old tree.’ And I said: ‘What kind of a tree?’ And you said: ‘I’m like an oak tree.’ I said, ‘Right, everybody forgets that you said you’re like a tree.’ And on my obituary, it’s going to say: ‘She asked people what kind of tree they want to be.’”
Why did you ask that wonderful Katharine Hepburn what kind of a tree, right?
And she said, “I wonder what kind of a tree people are all the time, don’t you?”
“Do you ever wonder what kind of a tree your best friend is?”
“Well”, she said, “you didn’t mean that question.” She said, “I look out, and I know I’m not that damn sycamore in the backyard that drops its branches and its limbs to kill people. And I’m not a silly piddling little tree. I am a wonderful oak tree, and I saw one this big around in the woods — a white oak, with branches like the light through the wall, great like that.
We’ll take it off.
Uhm… We were talking earlier when I was having lunch with some of you about Margaret Thatcher. And I didn’t write down her interview because I didn’t know how many of you would remember her, but then I realized that there was a movie The Iron Lady.
And what I learned from Margaret Thatcher was how to live with a failure, because she had been the first female Prime Minister, the longest reigning Prime Minister, and then her own party kicked her out. And I interviewed her right after she was no longer Prime Minister, and she was in a very depressed stage.
And she said, “You know, the telephone rings. And I think I must answer it, and I must go back to Downing Street and then… I realize it isn’t me.” And she said, “It is so important, and you are so young now, and you’re just beginning. But you will — I hope not — but you will perhaps some… have some failure. And you will be able to go on, add a new chapter, (and) have a more interesting time even.”
When I went to ABC to be the first female co-anchor of a network news program, I was a total flop. The headlines in the paper said, “Barbara Walters, a flop”. And I was in anguish, but the best thing that happened to me was that I had to work my way back. That’s when I get all the interviews that we’ve talked about. If you have a failure, you will rise, you will be fine, you will work your way back. Do not sink into “Why me?” “Why was me?” “It’s not my fault!” And to give you an example of that, I want to read you the words of a man, named Christopher Reeve.
I’m reading this to you because life sometimes brings enormous difficulties and challenges that seem just too hard to bear. But bear then you can, and bear then you will. And your life can have a purpose. Christopher Reeve’s life did. Let me remind you of who he was. He was a fine actor. He was… famous for playing Superman in films, and he was a superb athlete. He sailed, he ski… he skied. Most of all, he was a great horseman, until 1995, when his horse failed to jump over a hurdle in the riding competition. The horse fell. He fell with it. And he found himself completely paralyzed from the neck down — this man who had been this adventurer and actor and athlete.
And his wife came in to him. And she said, “Chris, if you want us, we will find the way to pull the plug.” And he was lying in bed with the tubes, completely immobile.
She said, “Remember you are still you.” Which had 2 connotations: “You are still you?” and “You are STILL you!” And she left the room. And the doctor came in, in a white coat with a heavy accent, and the doctor said, “I’m a proctologist. Turn over!”
And Reeve looked at this doctor as if he were insane.
And the doctor said, “I told you! I told you! Turn over!”
And as he was about to try to find some way of… of getting a nurse or someone instead of this crazy doctor, he looked up, and he realized it was Robin Willams. He had gone to Julliard with Robin Williams, and he burst out laughing. And he said, “If I can laugh, I can live!”
These are the words of Christopher Reeve: “You gradually discover as I’m discovering that your body is not you, and the mind and the spirit must take over. And that’s the challenge as you move from obsessing about: ‘Why me?’ and ‘It’s not fair!’ and ‘When will I move again?’ I move into: ‘Well, what is the potential?’ And now I see opportunities and potential I wasn’t capable of seeing, because every moment is more intense and valuable than it ever was. I received over 100,000 letters from all over the world. And it makes you wonder: Why do we need disasters to really feel and appreciate each other? I’m overwhelmed by people supported me. And if I can help people understand that this can happen to anybody, that’s worth it right there. So I really think being in a journey.”
And I said, “Do you think you will walk again?”
He said, “I think it’s very possible that I will walk again. And if you don’t, then I won’t walk again, as simple as that!”
“Either you do or you don’t. It’s like a game of cards,” he said, “And if you think the game is worthwhile, then you just play the hand you’re dealt. Sometimes you get a lot of face cards, and sometimes you don’t. But I think the game is worthwhile. I really do.”
He got to the point after… years of doing exercise and experiments where he could breathe without a respirator in his throat. And for the first time, because he didn’t have the tube in his throat, he could smell a rose or taste coffee. That was an enormous accomplishment. And he had some feeling in his chest when I hugged him the last time I saw him. He could feel the pressure. He could feel the hug. He made a good life. Christopher Reeve did with his wife Dana and their three children.
He lectured, directed films, (and) raised millions of dollars in the consciousness of scientist, to promote research into stem cells, hoping that he would be able to cure the thousands of people suffering from spinal cord injury. His life, though very hard, had meaning and purpose. His death on October of 2004 was a great loss.
So what have I tried to say to you is you enter this brand new chapter of your life. And what I hope is going to be a long and fulfilling life, with a lot of different hats that you will be wearing. Don’t worry about finding your bliss right now. Not even our president knew what his bliss was. Nor did I. One of these days to your own surprise, your bliss will find you.
But no matter what you do, don’t be like my grandma Lily “Participate”. Be there! Full force, full heart, full steam ahead. And in making choices, when in doubt, trust your gut. Does this feel right? Does this feel good? Remember the decision is ultimately yours alone to make. Remember this today when you’re talking with parents, friends, grandparents: the decision is ultimately yours alone to make.
When jealous, angry or afraid, try compassion and warm-heartedness. Nourish your friends. And finally, whatever hand you are dealt, I hope you will find the game worthwhile. I do. And rarely have I been happier with the hand that I have been dealt than I am today with the honor and pleasure of meeting you. I thank you, and I hope that your life will be like a Great, White, Oak. I thank you.