About a year ago, I stumbled upon Tim Minchin on the internet and was immediately caught. A great writer, singer, pianist & actor with a fantastic (if slightly odd) sense of humour… who could ask for anything more?
Always measured in my enthusiasms, I thus immediately spent all of my free time listening to him and watching his shows!
One afternoon, as YouTube was automatically choosing the next thing I would apparently want (or should I say need) to watch, a very different kind of video showed up. I had a closer look, and realised it was a speech he’d made at the graduation ceremony for Arts & Sciences students from UWA.
I didn’t feel like listening to something too serious, and reached to skip it… but too late: Tim Minchin had started talking, and I just had to listen. He bestowed upon these students and I 9 life lessons.
Full of humour, this speech has inspired me more than anything else I read, saw or heard in the last few years, and I still, to this day, watch in whenever I’m unsure on how to go about things, or when I’m feeling down.
I’ll tell you about all 9 lessons one day, but for today, let us just pause for a moment to consider his third “Life lesson”:
3. Remember, It’s All Luck
You are lucky to be here. You were incalculably lucky to be born, and incredibly lucky to be brought up by a nice family that helped you get educated and encouraged you to go to Uni. Or if you were born into a horrible family, that’s unlucky and you have my sympathy… but you were still lucky: lucky that you happened to be made of the sort of DNA that made the sort of brain which – when placed in a horrible childhood environment – would make decisions that meant you ended up, eventually, graduating Uni. Well done you, for dragging yourself up by the shoelaces, but you were lucky. You didn’t create the bit of you that dragged you up. They’re not even your shoelaces. (Tim Minchin, UWA address 2013)
As with every single one of his points, I find myself thinking of this on a regular basis. I am so lucky to be here. To be born in a lovely family in a democratic country that is —for the moment anyway— in peace. I’m so lucky that I have no big health problem, that I travel freely to the places I love most, that I have friends to count on should I need to. And I’m so lucky to be made of the sort of DNA that made me in that friendly —though sometimes slightly awkawrd— person who can go out on her own (and on water) until 4 am, have lots of fun and meet friendly (and occasionally plain weird) random people all night. I’m lucky that I am free, I’m lucky that I can do the things I love. I’m lucky I know the people I know. I’m lucky.
And you probably are too, to some extent at least: lucky to be alive, lucky to have a lover, lucky to have a life project, lucky to have time, or to do an interesting job, or to have a cat… In some respect or other, you are lucky. It’s worth reminding ourselves sometimes that it’s all luck.
“Understanding that you can’t truly take credit for your successes, nor truly blame others for their failures will humble you and make you more compassionate.
Empathy is intuitive, but is also something you can work on, intellectually.” (Tim Minchin, UWA address 2013)
Something to think about.