Congratulations, seniors. After a long 13-year voyage across a proverbial sea of knowledge, we have arrived, and are ready to leave port. We are now more mature, more learned, more worldly, due to the efforts of our teachers, parents, and friends that have taught us to navigate the educational waters. We have learned so much from Mountain View, and our futures seem as vast and as open as the sea. But that is just the surface — underneath the passive waves is a turbulent mystery. We know nothing of our oceans in comparison to our knowledge of interstellar space, just as we know nothing of our lives in comparison to where we will be in our future. Our English teachers told us to scuba dive to find meaning in our essays. We must swim deeper as well to discover meaning in ourselves and our surroundings.
It is completely alright to not know. Every great person started right where we are here, unknowing of a solution in the distance. The great take steps in the right directions, carefully navigating the precipice of not knowing. But it is what they have accomplished in light of not knowing that made them truly great — Edison, unknowing of the correct light bulb filament, unknowing that his pursuit of knowledge has lit our future; Truman, unknowing of whether or not the gamble of an atomic bomb could bring peace, unknowing that his decision has launched our world into a new reality of energy and dangers; currently, the men and women scouring the Indian Ocean, unknowing where a flight could have landed, unknowing of the possibility of success, but inspiring the world by persevering on. The world as a whole does not know much.
However, greatness is not defined by how much we know, but instead what we can do and discover. Author Eckhart Tolle once said that, “being at ease with not knowing is crucial for answers to come to you.” Let us become comfortable with the uncomfortable fact that we actually don’t know everything. But let us not be complacent and slide into ignorance. Let us achieve, let us dream, let us dive into the oceans of unknown — for we aren’t simply defined by how much knowledge we have —it’s what we do with our knowledge that can make us great. Using your past skill set is just as important as expanding it. Great explorers of the past have used their skill sets to seek out what they did not know, setting different sails for lands they did not know existed — Columbus, though perhaps not the best example for character, or intelligence considering he died still believing Cuba was India, still pushed the boundaries of what he did not know, setting sail and setting foot on lands he did not know, discovering a new continent. Noah, building an ark and building a new life, leaving an old world to be torn down behind him for a future not yet known. Use the tools you know now to create new ships to seek what you will know in the future.
What we do is centered around the fact that we do not know the future, that we do not know ourselves. According to Gilda Radner, “Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next.” Life is about finding out what we do not know. It is about discovering new knowledge, pursuing mystery, continuously learning — our education does not stop on the field, and our ship simply sails on, past the horizon — learning is a never ending process that never quite touches upon land, not just limited to academic pursuits, but to living itself. There is no anchor that leaves us still, that says that we are finished. There is no finishing the problem that we don’t know anything. But we can continue to pick away at what we do not know. We can move and learn throughout our lives. Though we will never know all, we can know more and more. We don’t know anything. So then seniors — What are we going to do about it?