Matthew Lewis, who writes for The Daily Caller and The Week, wasn’t invited to deliver the commencement address at any ceremonies this year. But what’s that to stop him from writing 1,200 words of “advice” to new graduates anyway?
In a Monday column for The Week, Lewis offered what was meant to be a series of tips for young people entering the work force and generally speaking, the real world. Instead, it reads more like a personal diary, chronicling Lewis’s own life struggles (he once worked at a gas station) and bits of wisdom from other writers.
George Santayana observed that Americans don’t solve their problems; they leave them behind. As I became a father, this really hit me hard. Naively, I had believed that I had mastered things that I had merely outgrown. But when you have kids, you rediscover (and relive) your weaknesses.
Here’s a trivial example. For at least fifteen years of my life, I went to a building every day that had some sort of basketball court attached to it. Despite the fact that my dad had been a high school star, I’ve always been a lousy player. But there was no escaping this game, which seemed inexorably tied to my life. And then one day, I graduated. Since I didn’t become a P.E. teacher or something, I have never had another occasion to play basketball. Until now.
Now I have a son. He will surely play basketball. I may have found a years-long respite from my hardcourt weakness, but in the form of my children, I will have to confront again the weakness I never mastered.
Take that to the bank, graduates. Or your local Public Welfare office. Whichever place will give you more bang for that what the f*** sermon.
It turns out Lewis’s piece reads like a personal letter to himself because… he had his own kids in mind when he wrote it. “By the grace of God, I hope to be here when they are grown to turn them on to [author] Joan Didion, myself,” he told FishbowlDC. “But if I’m not, I suspect they may look to my writings for some hints about my life and work. And if they do, I hope that — alongside my many FishbowlDC-worthy scrapes and skirmishes — they will also find some helpful advice and (who knows) maybe even discover their old man had a larger sense of purpose.”
Lewis said he hopes actual graduates will read his column, too. “If they take just one thing from it, I hope it’s Dr. Angela Duckworth’s advice on “grit” — and her maxim about choosing easy and working hard,” he told us. “If that’s all they get, they will still be ahead of the game.”