Wednesday, 25 June 2008

J.K. Rowling's amazing commencement speech at Harvard Uni!

I'm grateful to my routinely visited procrastination site www.phdcomics.com for their link to JK Rowling's commencement speech at the Harvard University graduation this June 2008. It's indeed uplifting and very wisely spoken (not to mention very witty). The title is

The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination




Thanks to The Daily Snitcher, these are the direct links for part 1, part 2, and part 3. And these are some quotes:



So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.
...
Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above rubies. 

The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more to me than any qualification I ever earned.

Given a time machine or a Time Turner, I would tell my 21-year-old self that personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two. Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone’s total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.

Read along to know what she learned from her tenure at the Amnesty International. No wonder the tones of Harry Potter are often gory and gritty; they came from real life! And yet, she still believes in this one:

We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.

Thanks a lot, JK Rowling! Thank you for Harry Potter, and for being yourself.

2 comments:

Hepburn said...

Hi Icha! Nicely said and I enjoyed reading what J.K.Rowling had to say in her speech!
I hope that you are well?
Take care!

Hepburn :)

Icha said...

Thanks a lot, Hepburn!

I've been super busy, and hardly have time to properly do anything other than research, but such is life...

take care!
icha