Valediction: Amer Latif

It is my pleasure and honor to offer these words of farewell to you, graduates of the Marlboro class of 2015—my students, colleagues, and friends:

This world is a play of opposites.
Outside, day runs after night and night after day.
The seasons—winter, spring, summer, fall—chase each other.
At the ocean, the tide goes in and the tide goes out.
Inside, our hearts expand and contract.
Our hands clench and unclench;
If they remained always clenched, they would be paralyzed.
Deeper, inside our selves,
Joy walks behind sorrow,
Clarity follows confusion,
Calm is at the heels of agitation,
Communion marches behind alienation.

“Reality,” says Rumi, “turns you from one feeling to another
And teaches by means of opposites,
So that you will have two wings to fly, not one.”

I wish for you, the confidence and trust in the nature of reality,
And the strength, to live each feeling to the full.
As Maya has so honestly and eloquently described in her senior address:
May you inhabit loneliness and turn it into a solitude
Whose fruits are contemplation and insight,
So that, when spring comes,
You can fully inhale the fragrance of flowers
And bare your skin to the warmth of the sun.

Like a tree firmly planted,
May you send roots deep within
And feed on the clear waters of self-knowledge.
And at the same time, being sturdy in your trunk,
May you keep reaching out and up,
And let your leaves tremble and dance
With the caress of every breeze.

I wish for you the harmony of opposites;
That through this harmony you become a blessing to yourself
And a blessing to all beings in this world.

I wish you joy, great joy.