“Be on time for life!” What a powerful statement to hear from academy award-winning actor Benicio Del Toro, as he addressed the 2018 graduating class at his Alma Mater, Mercersburg Academy. I was honored to be a guest at this celebration… watching with pride as my god-daughter Madeline Lauther graduated with goals, ambition, and an undeniable drive to make life better with the opportunity she has been given.
It may have been one of the hottest days this spring. A blazing 87 degrees at 11 am in the open courtyard of the academy, yet I sat glued to every word Del Toro spoke. He found a way to meet the graduates where they were on their journey. He took his own experiences in life and related them to the mindset they most likely were in… the one racing so that you are not late for life. Questions loomed in their eyes. Fears were evident. Yet the excitement surrounding opportunity was unmistakable and inspiring. I walked away feeling that if every 18 year old could hear these words of wisdom, they would be better for it. This was not about which college of university they were going to attend. This was not about a higher education. This was not about the elite or the privileged. This was about life. This was about T.R.U.E. G.R.I.T. Let me share some quotes that resonated with me:
“Why give up before trying.”
“Re-imagine the line… have conviction!”
“If you don’t believe in it, why would I?”
“Turn frustration into accomplishment.”
“Lead movements of change.”
“Understanding where someone is coming from is the start to knowing where you are going.”
Del Torro may be an award-winning actor, but that wasn’t where his focus was while at the academy. He was a basketball star and an artist. He had no idea that acting would be his path. He himself felt like he was late for life on more than one occasion. The quotes above that he shared were powerful… not because they came from an actor, but because they are L.E.G.I.T. .
To truly appreciate the humbleness that comes from this man, let me share his view on himself. Del Toro says, “I like to take things very slowly. When you start to become a movie star, it’s easy to believe that you are Superman. That can fool you. That’s why I prefer not to pay much attention to fame. The truth is that I don’t give it much thought. I don’t suffer. I don’t hang my photographs on the wall. Without realizing it, you can enter a vicious circle and think that you really are a superhero. That’s the moment when you get yourself in real trouble.”
Then this happened…
“THERE IS NO-ONE LIKE YOU AND NO-ONE WILL EVER BE YOU!” -Benicio Del Toro
No one like you… wow! So profound… truth! That is how I viewed each graduate as they walked onto the sacred grassy platform to which they only step upon for graduation day. Every single graduate dressed in their own style… their own vision… their own voice. The appreciation of individual differences was most evident when Valedictorian, Xiang “Victor” Li replaced his speech with something that he had passion for… music. He shared with each of us, ““I have always hated speeches because I have never figured out where the thin line between meaningfulness and cringiness lies, so, pretty much what I’m saying now is I can’t and I won’t do a speech.” In turn, this is a snippet of the gift he shared with all who attended…
L.E.G.I.T. relationships support these passions.
Be on time for life!