I gave a commencement address, to a group of about one hundred graduating students and several hundred friends and family members at a design school here on Friday.
I decided to improvise — live, at the event.
But with this discipline, jotted on the way:
Storytelling — everything that creative people do is about story; it’s about weaving them amongst oneself, with others. One must know how to tell the story — about oneself, before you can hope to tell the story of others.
Opening | listening — if one hopes to tell a story, then it’s crucial to learn to listen. Being open, quiet, in listening — wait to speak, breaking silence after hearing only. You’re open, if you are. You listen, if you do.
Contemplation — it’s always about being in the space of listening, quiet. The templum is a space. Con-templum, from the Latin, is being: in the space. Be in that place. Be quiet. Reflect before you move.
Signature — every thing that you do will bear your signature — it’s a signing, a describing. You are in everything that you do.
Construction | destruction — structure comes from an ancient phrasing for street: where are you going? Where did you come from? What structure might there be now will soon, likely, be “de-structured”. Let it be made, but let it be broken — processes, paths, approaches are made to be changed. Like any river, they flow. You can do that, too.
Reflection — when you are designing, creating anything — you speak in a way that will either be understood, or not, by your sense of reflectivity; how the story is told should be in a manner that reflects that; it’s to whom you are speaking that must hear it. Reflective, it mirrors, and there’s resonance.
Passion | pain — the good work is about being connected, being embedded in the heart of what you do. You are doing what you do, because you love it. You might not always love that effort — there will be pain, there will be challenge. And that is passion — from pati, Latin for pain.
Overdone | neverdone — it’s one thing to do many things excessively, to overdo it. And surely, I’ve been guilty of that. But, beyond the overdoing, working designs and ideas to distraction, it’s more about realizing that the work, your work, your exploration, should be: neverdone.
Rippling — once you drop the stone, it enters the field, the water. It ripples outward; it touches other rippling movements, wavelets are formed, touching one, another. An other. One drop, and the waves extend forever. Know that the work starts with one stone, one drop, that in connecting, ripples outward.