“”This yearning to return home, this yearning for a community with identity and roots, is one of the most powerful things one learns from going on the road. I know. I feel it myself, here today, here in my home.
As T.S. Eliot famously concluded his Four Quartets:
We shall not cease exploration/ And the end of all our exploring/ Will be to arrive where we started/ And know the place for the first time.
We all drink from wells we did not dig, and we all eat fruit from trees that were planted by people who came before us. The better we understand that, the more we’ll realize that what will distinguish our time on this planet are the wells we dig and the trees we plant for those who come after us.
That’s not something you’re expected to understand today. You learn it as you go down the road. It will begin to make sense when you have your first kid.
And by the time you get to the end of the road, you will understand that this is what keeps the whole journey from being meaningless.
Now’s the time to start down that road. That’s why they call this a commencement. Godspeed.
2000 Commencement Address, Walter Isaacson, Tulane University.