I’ve yet to be invited to give a commencement speech to a graduating class… but if I did I’d give this advice, above all:
Set aside 4 hours a week that you will, under no circumstances, overwrite with some other activity, even work, even play, even your very favorite thing to do. If at all possible, build those 4 hours into your work schedule, your vocation. And guard those 4 hours as if your life depends on it.
Because it does.
Those 4 hours, whether on one day or spread across several, are the secret to survival. Those 4 hours make the other 108 waking hours of the week bearable no matter what the world throws at you, no matter if you like, love, or loathe the life you’re in.
Those are your alchemy hours.
It is the sacred time where you manufacture hope and inspiration, where you map out the next best thing and walk the line of dreams and reality, a professor of whimsy, a scholar of the sudsy division between land and sea. This is the time when you check in about what you’re doing and work on the tattered blueprints of your next invention.
So please protect those hours. Protecting them now is so much easier than trying to find them later underneath all of the beautiful things you’re going to fill your life with.
As long as you have those hours to stoke a fire and look to the horizon, you have eternity in your grasp. You can withstand the hard sun. You can become the sand or the moon.
You will be the envy of angels, for, in this commitment to giving your gifts fully, you shall truly be alive.