President Faust, members of the Harvard 2)Corporation and the Board of 3)Overseers, members of the faculty, proud parents, and, above all, graduates.
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 4)nausea I have endured at the thought of giving this 5)commencement address have made me lose weight. A win-win situation! Now all I have to do is take deep breaths, 6)squint at the red banners and convince myself that I am at the world’s largest 7)Gryffindor reunion.
Actually, I have wracked my mind and heart for what I ought to say to you today. I have asked myself what I wish I had known at my own graduation, and what important lessons I have learned in the 21 years that has expired between that day and this.
On this wonderful day when we are gathered together to celebrate your academic success, I have decided to talk to you about the benefits of failure.
Half my lifetime ago, I was striking an uneasy balance between the ambition I had for myself, and what those closest to me expected of me. I was convinced that the only thing I wanted to do, ever, was to write novels. However, my parents, both of whom came from 8)impoverished backgrounds and neither of whom had been to college, took the view that my overactive imagination was an amusing personal 9)quirk that could never pay a 10)mortgage, or secure a 11)pension. I cannot remember telling my parents that I was studying Classics; they might well have found out for the first time on graduation day. ......