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And here is J.K. Rowling addressing Harvard’s 2008 graduates.

Solemn beginning:

The first thing I would like to say is ‘thank you.’ Not only has Harvard given me an extraordinary honour, but the weeks of fear and nausea I have endured at the thought of giving this commencement address have made me lose weight. 

Words of wisdom:

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.

Notice how smoothly her words flow.  She did an excellent job.*

Watch Conan O’Brien addressing Dartmouth 2011 students.    

A hilarious bit:

Your school motto is “Vox clamantis in deserto,” which means “Voice crying out in the wilderness.” This is easily the most pathetic school motto I have ever heard. Apparently, it narrowly beat out “Silently Weeping in Thick Shrub” and “Whimpering in Moist Leaves without Pants.” 

A profound bit:

But the point is this : It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique. It’s not easy, but if you accept your misfortune and handle it right, your perceived failure can become a catalyst for profound re-invention.

I’ll stop now and let him do the talking.*

Making Light of a Nightmare

All I remember are scenes.  A friend in a coffin.  A child’s fist revealing a punctured rock.  An aproned lady with a face of blood and pus.  Perfect teeth flashing and mouth open wide, she shrieks without a soul for with one she’d be dead.

At 3 AM, sleep fled from me in terror.  The scenes chased after it and left me alone.  My room was aircon cold and still like a tomb.  I wanted to lie still, but my panicked bladder was hysterical:  Red Bull had gone mad and was fighting to get loose.

Awake and on my feet, I slapped the light switch on and spun around.  The room beamed at me like Van Gogh’s painting, bright but blurry around the edges.  Dali’s clock was melting on my desk.  In my ears played the lullaby of killers stalking prey.

Relieved of bull, I threw on a cape of sheets and cast my childhood spell—“if I can’t see it, it’s not real.”  My eyes captured darkness, and my hand clutched a cross.  To sleep, I chanted, to sleep, I prayed.  To sleep, perchance to dream.*