Commencement - Clark University

Senior Address — Abigail E. Petkov '13

Our potential is boundless. I believe that we, as a generation, have been given a very special opportunity on this earth. We are graduating today, and embarking on a new journey. We are entering the “real world” as many people put it, and beginning to lay the building blocks for our futures. However, I would like to stress that what we have lived so far, was not separate from the “real world”. The experiences we have had, and the knowledge we have gained, both inside and outside of the Blarney Stone, throughout our past years here at Clark University, can propel us forward in manifesting our hopes and dreams. I have written an original slam poem for this commencement ceremony, based on Dylan Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”. In his poem, Thomas addresses his ailing FATHER, urging him to “rage, rage against the dying of the light”. He reflects on many different kinds of “men” all of whom, regardles of the paths they have walked, feel that their lives have been incomplete, and consequently rage against their inevitable demise. Our dreams can become realities, especially if we fight courageously. The impact that we can have on this world is limitless. But in order to feel as though our lives have been complete, the determination rests on us. We get to decide the paths of our lives. And our potential is boundless.

Rage against the dying of the light

See, we are ephemeral on this Earth. Acknowledging only the significance of our own insignificant worth. Mother Nature’s Homo Sapien “problem child”, who sneaks out, steals the car, and brings it back home worse. With paint scratched, and windows smashed, and gears stuck in reverse. Forgetting to pretend that it was never heard that patience is a virtue, and virtue is a gift, and if you keep playing with fire, you are bound to get burned. I believe there are many out there who know the pain of a charred finger tip. Finger to the flame, can you recall the pleasure of throwing of caution to the wind? A wise man once said that “Mistakes are the mothers of success”, and I would rather live and learn ten thousand lessons, than die a mistake-less death. A cadaver with scars and bruises mapping the constellations of my life’s humility.

So, let us be kind. Let us be humble. And let us be wise. Let us not pass our lives without empathy. Our world cannot afford a future generation of blind, fumbling souls. The putrid stench of human suffering so biting, they’ve chosen to squeeze their eyes shut just to cope. Their forgotten frail deeds might have danced in a green bay. Rage, Rage against the dying of the light.

This year has been one of…recuperation. I have been cooperating with my demons, so they don’t control me. And corroborating with my vices, so they can console me. And I’ve learned it’s a beautiful thing to trust another’s soul and to believe in one’s own daunting potential. I say daunting because, at times, I feel taunted by my own. Like my very dreams I need to pay a fee to own. You know, like a fare to pay for dreaming big? We are not just our parents’ joys, the children of a generation of long lost kids. Wise men who caught, and sang the sun in flight, and learned too late, they grieved it on its way. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Manifest our sun-kissed dreams to create a future. One based on integrity, prosperity, and equality. So when the future generation comes to us, with the purity of a child, we can look them in the eye, raise our chin in pride, and proclaim with not a tremor, nor a tear of regret: “The best I could I did”. Our words will fork lightning. We will blaze like meteors. Empowered by the elemental force of blinding sight. A sword is useless in the hands of a coward.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

See, we are very fortunate. We are here, now, and good. And we believe in good. And we are only just arriving. Our light is not dying. The potential of our lives has only just begun to illuminate. We are here. We are free. And we are strong.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.