In which I’m actually serious for about two minutes


A few weeks ago, my sister got married, and she and her fiance gave me the high honor of speaking at their ceremony. (It was held in the Chicago Cultural Center in that room pictured above, which wasn’t nearly as creepy, empty and Poelike when it was full of friends and family.) Even better, they placed no restrictions on what I could say. But I could tell that my requests of Metallica-style exploding stage fireworks, dancing midgets and exotic dancers in cages to accompany my performance weren’t going over well, so I decided to play it straight. And since another one of my requests that they shot down was a worldwide webcast, here’s what I read.

[Side note: Thirty seconds before I was supposed to speak, I couldn’t find my speech. So I’m simultaneously trying to compose an ad-lib in my head and thumbing through my iPhone–I’d emailed it to myself to prevent just such an occasion–when I see it kicked under the seat beside me. Crisis averted.]

From Walt Whitman‘s “Song of the Open Road”

I do not offer the old smooth prizes,
But offer rough new prizes,
These are the days that must happen to you:
You shall not heap up what is called riches,
You shall scatter with lavish hand all that you earn or achieve.
However sweet the laid-up stores,
However convenient the dwellings,
You shall not remain there.
However sheltered the port,
And however calm the waters,
You shall not anchor there.
However welcome the hospitality that welcomes you
You are permitted to receive it but a little while
Afoot and lighthearted, take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before you,
The long brown path before you,
leading wherever you choose.

The road is before us!
It is safe—I have tried it—my own feet have tried it well.

Be not detained!
Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and the book on the shelf unopened!
Let the tools remain in the workshop! let the money remain unearned!
Let the school stand! mind not the cry of the teacher!
Let the preacher preach in his pulpit! let the judge expound the law.

Say only to one another:
I give you my hand!
I give you my love, more precious than money,
I give you myself before preaching or law:
Will you give me yourself?
Will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?


8 Responses to “In which I’m actually serious for about two minutes

  • @SolakNC
    ago6 years

    Nice! Good job!

  • Jordan Cunningham
    ago6 years

    Why was it kicked under the seat beside you? I’m sorry, but imagining someone kicked it there got me buggin.

    Seriously though, um… I don’t get it but I trust its beautiful.

  • Did you at least do this while an epic 80s hair ballad played softly in the background?

  • @Solak: Thank you, sir.
    @Jordan: You don’t get it? We need to get you exposed to the world beyond anime, my friend. And the speech just fell out of my pocket as I was getting settled; no big secret.
    @Jordi: I tried to get a lighter-wave going, but alas, no luck.

  • Never was a big fan pf Whitman. I do like the sentiment in the last verse, but the first part seems to advocate abdication of responsibility. Maybe that’s what was bothering Jordan. Or not.

  • I took it more as “don’t get comfortable, don’t settle for the easy road and lose who you are.” Much of Whitman is self-indulgent nattering, but this one spoke to me.

  • Jordan Cunningham
    ago6 years

    Yeah right. There is no world beyond anime. Just ‘other”.

  • Olivia
    ago6 years

    Very nice choice. The message is a good one for all of us.

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