A few years ago, I blogged about my experience of meeting Jeanine Basinger and listening to her give a talk at the third Slayage conference in Arkansas. Basinger is Joss Whedon's mentor, his professor in film school at Wesleyan, and the woman to whom he turns whenever he's working on anything new. This year she brought him back to Wesleyan to give the commencement speech, and it was amazing, even if he did open it by telling everyone they were going to die. At least he was being honest. Recalling his own commencement, where Bill Cosby told all of them they weren't going to change the world, so don't even try, he said he could see where the legendary comedian was going with that, but he wanted to do better. And he did:
So here’s the thing about changing the world. It turns out that’s not even the question, because you don’t have a choice. You are going to change the world, because that is actually what the world is. You do not pass through this life, it passes through you. You experience it, you interpret it, you act, and then it is different. That happens constantly. You are changing the world. You always have been, and now, it becomes real on a level that it hasn’t been before.And that’s why I’ve been talking only about you and the tension within you, because you are—not in a clichéd sense, but in a weirdly literal sense—the future. After you walk up here and walk back down, you’re going to be the present. You will be the broken world and the act of changing it, in a way that you haven’t been before. You will be so many things, and the one thing that I wish I’d known and want to say is, don’t just been yourself. Be all of yourselves. Don’t just live. Be that other thing connected to death. Be life. Live all of your life. Understand it, see it, appreciate it. And have fun.
Go here to read the entire speech.