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Occasional Address

by Tim 25th Sep 2013 | 178 comments


Hi. I gave an “occasional address” for a graduation ceremony at my old Uni, The University of Western Australia. Here is the video. The text is below. Hope there’s something in it for you.

“In darker days, I did a corporate gig at a conference for this big company who made and sold accounting software. In a bid, I presume, to inspire their salespeople to greater heights, they’d forked out 12 grand for an Inspirational Speaker who was this extreme sports dude who had had a couple of his limbs frozen off when he got stuck on a ledge on some mountain. It was weird. Software salespeople need to hear from someone who has had a long, successful and happy career in software sales, not from an overly-optimistic, ex-mountaineer. Some poor guy who arrived in the morning hoping to learn about better sales technique ended up going home worried about the blood flow to his extremities. It’s not inspirational – it’s confusing.

And if the mountain was meant to be a symbol of life’s challenges, and the loss of limbs a metaphor for sacrifice, the software guy’s not going to get it, is he? Cos he didn’t do an arts degree, did he? He should have. Arts degrees are awesome. And they help you find meaning where there is none. And let me assure you, there is none. Don’t go looking for it. Searching for meaning is like searching for a rhyme scheme in a cookbook: you won’t find it and you’ll bugger up your soufflé.

Point being, I’m not an inspirational speaker. I’ve never lost a limb on a mountainside, metaphorically or otherwise. And I’m certainly not here to give career advice, cos… well I’ve never really had what most would call a proper job.

However, I have had large groups of people listening to what I say for quite a few years now, and it’s given me an inflated sense of self-importance. So I will now – at the ripe old age of 38 – bestow upon you nine life lessons. To echo, of course, the 9 lessons and carols of the traditional Christmas service. Which are also a bit obscure.

You might find some of this stuff inspiring, you will find some of it boring, and you will definitely forget all of it within a week. And be warned, there will be lots of hokey similes, and obscure aphorisms which start well but end up not making sense.

So listen up, or you’ll get lost, like a blind man clapping in a pharmacy trying to echo-locate the contact lens fluid.

Here we go:

1. You Don’t Have To Have A Dream.
Americans on talent shows always talk about their dreams. Fine, if you have something that you’ve always dreamed of, like, in your heart, go for it! After all, it’s something to do with your time… chasing a dream. And if it’s a big enough one, it’ll take you most of your life to achieve, so by the time you get to it and are staring into the abyss of the meaninglessness of your achievement, you’ll be almost dead so it won’t matter.

I never really had one of these big dreams. And so I advocate passionate dedication to the pursuit of short-term goals. Be micro-ambitious. Put your head down and work with pride on whatever is in front of you… you never know where you might end up. Just be aware that the next worthy pursuit will probably appear in your periphery. Which is why you should be careful of long-term dreams. If you focus too far in front of you, you won’t see the shiny thing out the corner of your eye. Right? Good. Advice. Metaphor. Look at me go.

2. Don’t Seek Happiness
Happiness is like an orgasm: if you think about it too much, it goes away. Keep busy and aim to make someone else happy, and you might find you get some as a side effect. We didn’t evolve to be constantly content. Contented Australophithecus Afarensis got eaten before passing on their genes.

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.

I suppose I worked hard to achieve whatever dubious achievements I’ve achieved … but I didn’t make the bit of me that works hard, any more than I made the bit of me that ate too many burgers instead of going to lectures while I was here at UWA.

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.

4. Exercise
I’m sorry, you pasty, pale, smoking philosophy grads, arching your eyebrows into a Cartesian curve as you watch the Human Movement mob winding their way through the miniature traffic cones of their existence: you are wrong and they are right. Well, you’re half right – you think, therefore you are… but also: you jog, therefore you sleep well, therefore you’re not overwhelmed by existential angst. You can’t be Kant, and you don’t want to be.

Play a sport, do yoga, pump iron, run… whatever… but take care of your body. You’re going to need it. Most of you mob are going to live to nearly a hundred, and even the poorest of you will achieve a level of wealth that most humans throughout history could not have dreamed of. And this long, luxurious life ahead of you is going to make you depressed!

But don’t despair! There is an inverse correlation between depression and exercise. Do it. Run, my beautiful intellectuals, run. And don’t smoke. Natch.

5. Be Hard On Your Opinions
A famous bon mot asserts that opinions are like arse-holes, in that everyone has one. There is great wisdom in this… but I would add that opinions differ significantly from arse-holes, in that yours should be constantly and thoroughly examined.

We must think critically, and not just about the ideas of others. Be hard on your beliefs. Take them out onto the verandah and beat them with a cricket bat.
Be intellectually rigorous. Identify your biases, your prejudices, your privilege.

Most of society’s arguments are kept alive by a failure to acknowledge nuance. We tend to generate false dichotomies, then try to argue one point using two entirely different sets of assumptions, like two tennis players trying to win a match by hitting beautifully executed shots from either end of separate tennis courts.

By the way, while I have science and arts grads in front of me: please don’t make the mistake of thinking the arts and sciences are at odds with one another. That is a recent, stupid, and damaging idea. You don’t have to be unscientific to make beautiful art, to write beautiful things.

If you need proof: Twain, Adams, Vonnegut, McEwen, Sagan, Shakespeare, Dickens. For a start.

You don’t need to be superstitious to be a poet. You don’t need to hate GM technology to care about the beauty of the planet. You don’t have to claim a soul to promote compassion.

Science is not a body of knowledge nor a system of belief; it is just a term which describes humankind’s incremental acquisition of understanding through observation. Science is awesome.

The arts and sciences need to work together to improve how knowledge is communicated. The idea that many Australians – including our new PM and my distant cousin Nick – believe that the science of anthropogenic global warming is controversial, is a powerful indicator of the extent of our failure to communicate. The fact that 30% of this room just bristled is further evidence still. The fact that that bristling is more to do with politics than science is even more despairing.

6. Be a teacher.
Please? Please be a teacher. Teachers are the most admirable and important people in the world. You don’t have to do it forever, but if you’re in doubt about what to do, be an amazing teacher. Just for your twenties. Be a primary school teacher. Especially if you’re a bloke – we need male primary school teachers. Even if you’re not a Teacher, be a teacher. Share your ideas. Don’t take for granted your education. Rejoice in what you learn, and spray it.

7. Define Yourself By What You Love
I’ve found myself doing this thing a bit recently, where, if someone asks me what sort of music I like, I say “well I don’t listen to the radio because pop lyrics annoy me”. Or if someone asks me what food I like, I say “I think truffle oil is overused and slightly obnoxious”. And I see it all the time online, people whose idea of being part of a subculture is to hate Coldplay or football or feminists or the Liberal Party. We have tendency to define ourselves in opposition to stuff; as a comedian, I make a living out of it. But try to also express your passion for things you love. Be demonstrative and generous in your praise of those you admire. Send thank-you cards and give standing ovations. Be pro-stuff, not just anti-stuff.

8. Respect People With Less Power Than You.
I have, in the past, made important decisions about people I work with – agents and producers – based largely on how they treat wait staff in restaurants. I don’t care if you’re the most powerful cat in the room, I will judge you on how you treat the least powerful. So there.

9. Don’t Rush.
You don’t need to already know what you’re going to do with the rest of your life. I’m not saying sit around smoking cones all day, but also, don’t panic. Most people I know who were sure of their career path at 20 are having midlife crises now.

I said at the beginning of this ramble that life is meaningless. It was not a flippant assertion. I think it’s absurd: the idea of seeking “meaning” in the set of circumstances that happens to exist after 13.8 billion years worth of unguided events. Leave it to humans to think the universe has a purpose for them. However, I am no nihilist. I am not even a cynic. I am, actually, rather romantic. And here’s my idea of romance:

You will soon be dead. Life will sometimes seem long and tough and, god, it’s tiring. And you will sometimes be happy and sometimes sad. And then you’ll be
old. And then you’ll be dead.

There is only one sensible thing to do with this empty existence, and that is: fill it. Not fillet. Fill. It.

And in my opinion (until I change it), life is best filled by learning as much as you can about as much as you can, taking pride in whatever you’re doing, having compassion, sharing ideas, running(!), being enthusiastic. And then there’s love, and travel, and wine, and sex, and art, and kids, and giving, and mountain climbing … but you know all that stuff already.

It’s an incredibly exciting thing, this one, meaningless life of yours. Good luck.

Thank you for indulging me.”

Photo courtesy of UWA (photographer – Ron D’Raine)

Photo courtesy of UWA (photographer – Ron D’Raine)

Leave a Comment

178 Comments

Benjamin on 17th of December 2014

So, in all this, one can only share in hopes of creating a chain reaction of realizing the worth of words here. I am sending this to some friends, family and colleagues. My therapist asked me keep a journal between October and January or just to write my thoughts down even if it’s just a page. I am surviving bipolar II disorder, I can’t say its been an easy one or even “one” at all most of time. The inflammation of such a mental state is some times a daunting task to control and refocus. My rubber tires are finally hitting that road as they say. I work two jobs, supporting my only loves, my wife and 2 daughters. I am thankful for my day job, working with a local elementary school and my night job as bicycle mechanic. It’s luck, it is the peripheral flash of gold or silver, it is small steps in life that get you going in a direction. I thank you for the time you spend making life happen.

Behzad Tabatabai on 26th of November 2014

Brilliant, funny and charming speech… You’re dead-on… Life is meaningless by default. However, by doing the other things you mentioned – by being passionate, teaching, respecting others – we make sense of it for ourselves; we add our own meaning to it.

Grace on 9th of October 2014

I have been forever touched. Never shall i forget the message in that speech (well, at least i hope i never forget)
I’ll have it memorized in anticipation of my own graduation…. in case i ever find my self within a position to give The Speech.
Thanks a bunch Tim!

Kim on 9th of October 2014

Brilliant. Its October of 2014. I’m in California. 44 y/o, staring at the ocean today, trying to figure out…once again…what the hell I’m supposed to be doing with my life. A dear friend of mine just posted the link to the video of this transcript. Ah, just to hear these things so eloquently put out into the universe. Thank you for the reminders. Yes, there WAS something in it for me, too.
With gratitude,
Kim

Philippa on 30th of September 2014

Wish I’d found this site yesterday. A friend shared your speech on facebook, but without a link, so I resorted to typing it all out so I could share it with my children! Now I’ve found the site, I’ll share a link to it. I loved the speech. I prefer to believe there is some meaning to our lives (not in a guided way, or in a religious sense) but that doesn’t negate everything else you have said. I don’t have the education you have to argue my view, so I won’t try. The other 99% of what you have said has more than earned my standing ovation. Thank you!

Marco Guardigli on 26th of September 2014

Mr. Minchin, you are great! i am sending your word to my children, hoping that they will be able to fully understand them, one day.

We need more people to understand the deeper meanings, being able to appreciate the power of critical thinking!

thank you!

marco

Roger T Storm on 20th of September 2014

Great! Some of life’s most profound mysteries and truths are best understod and dealt with by metaphore, circumstancial reasoning, and by opening the humurous sides of our minds. You’re a master .. . so thank you for sharing .. from the Scandinavian corner of this our universal home.

RTS

kim on 18th of September 2014

Profound, inspiring, beautiful, gorgeous, awesome, wonderful. This all took me 31 years to come close to discovering and to hear it so brilliantly conveyed with such heart warming passion and conviction! I salute you sir. You are an absolute genius and poet among men. I literally don’t have enough words to convey the admiration for this. You’re incredible.

Liz conner on 17th of September 2014

As per your speech- be enthusiastic, write thank you cards, give standing ovations! Thank you for such a superb comment and critique on life.

Stephanie Petras on 16th of September 2014

Having never heard of you before, I happened to see this on a Facebook post. I, as I am sure others, frequently feel ‘lost’ in life, wondering what happened to the person I once was and looking to find my way back. Your speech reminded me that the person I was looking for was right here. Your words are inspiring and incredible. This world might be a better place if more people could actually ‘hear’ them. I can only hope for the best for others, but your speech has inspired me to pass along my own words, thoughts, and learnings to my children. Thanks for the inspiration, for sharing who you are, and for making a difference.

Chris on 16th of September 2014

Thanks for this. Entertaining, sensible and brilliant. My only quibble would be that your fashionable climate view tends to place arts/politics above science…leave climate and the response to it to science, not to politics and consensus. Still, while I am certain you and I would disagree on plenty, this was a wonderful speech and I am pleased to be able to share it with others…including my sons on their way up…and my mother, a teacher, who has lived this all of her life….CK

Susan Rees on 14th of September 2014

BRILLIANT… “We must think critically, and not just about the ideas of others. Be hard on your beliefs. Take them out onto the verandah and beat them with a cricket bat. Be intellectually rigorous. Identify your biases, your prejudices, your privilege.”

Albena on 12th of September 2014

You really are a genius, Tim. Thank you! I’m putting the transcript on my wall.

Jerry Minyard on 10th of September 2014

I showed your speech to one of my high school classes.
Giggles and contemplative silence…all in the right places, mate.
Good work.
Best wishes.

D.L. on 10th of September 2014

Very well done. Thanks for the impressively deep thoughts and for the transcript so that we can share them. Please do keep speaking.

Pro on 8th of September 2014

Pretty amazing speech that applies to everyone of all ages. We’re relegated to pick a career at 17 or 18 years as that is the time when we have to withdraw our parents’ investment in education savings in hopes that we made the right decision. Then we seek employment with the false sense of security in “arriving” at financial independence. Then we fall in love but quickly realize that love merely doesn’t pay the bills and our primary energies and waking hours pass us quickly while our kids grow up faster than our own childhood. Then after many 5-year intervals, we find that many of our 5-year plans either get kicked down the road or never come to fruition. Then we become disgruntled with others over slight differences or oblivious to the grand scheme of things. Then in our old age our souls are encapsulated by regret and grudges because we feel like we need to resolve the wrongs to achieve a perfect life. The most difficult thing to do in life is to not think about it.

Graham Roberts-Phelps on 8th of September 2014

I work as professional business trainer and motivational speaker (non mountain climbing type). I love this, saw it for the first time this morning. Watched it 3 times already. Thanks Tim.

Maryam on 3rd of September 2014

Man, the speech was incredible, it rescued me right at the middle of my PhD crisis.
wish you a more happy , meaningful , passionate , encouraging life … please don’t rush to get old.

Ward on 15th of August 2014

I have fun with, cause I discovered just what I used to be looking
for. You have ended my 4 day lengthy hunt!
God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye

Luciana on 16th of June 2014

Muito bom, como sempre.

avinash on 5th of June 2014

I loved every bit of it. Made me laugh all throughout but at the same time it was indeed deep and nuanced; not to forget very realistic. It covers all the aspect of our existence, billion years back when it all began whose product we’re today till the day we gonna die. This has become my favorite “address” now.

Monika Jain on 25th of April 2014

Nice speech.

Monika Jain on 25th of April 2014

The speech is really inspiring. A number of very important life lessons; how I so much wish that I received such advice at the time of graduation.

David Laven on 11th of March 2014

Splendid. I have just sent this to all my final year students as some of the wisest advice I have encountered. If they follow his advice they will be happy … or, at least, happier.

Of course, I am a huge fan: he is the second finest mind to come out of Western Australia. (I am, of course, the finest, but have only been back once since leaving in 1968 … aged four.)

What a great and humane man. That’s Minchin, not me. I am simply vainglorious and middle-aged and deluded.

Lisa on 26th of February 2014

Yes.

Markus on 19th of February 2014

I like this stuff. Bravo.

Dissertationbuzz.co.uk on 20th of December 2013

Excellent!I think this is a very inspirational article, and clearly written.

beth jones on 12th of December 2013

Tim – while I like hour words very much indeed, I disagree with hour assertion that life is meaningless. It us about relationships with your yellow man – from those closest to you, to those less fortunate or in lesser positions of power, or even those who do us wrong – and you seem to get that, so therefore it cannot be meaningless, can it? and it is about finding and sharing joy – which is where the lifelong learning and teaching comes in… Much love and respect from a fellow traveler and a former teacher <3 <3

Paola on 9th of December 2013

Hi Tim! I’m Paola. I’m on my twenties and still have no idea what I really want to do with rest of my life. I was lost. I’m not sure if you will read this, but I’ll take my chances. I just watched your speech and it was as if you were here right in front of me, talking to me, giving me rich advice. At the end of your speech, I cried because I was so happy. Finally, I have all the answers to my questions. Thank you for making me realize that I need to rush. I don’t have to panic. I don’t need to waste my time thinking so much about how everything will turn out if I do this and that. Thank you. Words can’t even describe how much your speech helped me. I wish I could meet you one day and thank you personally.

Paola

omegle talk to strangers on 6th of December 2013

I was recommended this web site by way of my cousin.
I am no longer certain whether this put up is
written through him as nobody else realize such precise about my difficulty.
You are incredible! Thanks!

expedia coupons on 27th of November 2013

Hi mates, good piece of writing and pleasant arguments commented here,
I am truly enjoying by these.

Phil W on 19th of November 2013

Doctor Tim………………… Why not Doctor Who?
Once Peter Capaldi has finished you just have to get that gig!

Sara on 19th of November 2013

I cried a little.

Scott Arbuthnot on 15th of November 2013

Tim, the last thing you probably want is a right wing, red necked, engineer as a fan, but you’ve got me now, so there :)
All made for great contemplation but with point 8 alone, you have me for what is left of my meaningless existence.

James on 10th of November 2013

Sorry about that double comment. My interwebs are a bit tangled up at the moment. I think my router is busy staring into the abyss of it’s meaningless acheivements. They always seem to kick the bucket just after the warranty period ends.. There we go, not -every- aspect of this existence is based on luck – the inbuilt obsolescence of our consumer electronics is by (intelligent) design! See what I did there.. (-_-,)

James on 10th of November 2013

Hey Tim. A mate of mine showed me the video of this speech on youtube last night and I was pretty damned close to speechless after you were done. It’s such a masterfully succinct and sharp-witted summarisation of the wisdom that you’ve accumulated in your journey thus far.

It helped me reach the realisation that although this existence appears to be a meaningless amalgamation of a cosmically-scaled truckload of chance and a nebulous cloud of quantum mechanicky stuff beyond the comprehension of us mere mortals, that this does not damn us to an existence of apathy and aimlessness and that simply ‘being’ and experiencing all that one possibly can within their lifetime can be enough to bring fulfillment.

Thanks for the help in conjuring this little bubble of clarity within my all-too-often foggy aspergers sydrome diagnosed mind..

Yours sincerely,

One of your many fans from across the ditch.

James on 10th of November 2013

Hey Tim. A mate of mine showed me the video of this speech on youtube last night and I was pretty damned close to speechless after you were done. It’s such a masterfully succinct and sharp-witted summarisation of the wisdom that you’ve accumulated thus far.

It helped me reach the realisation that although this existence appears to be a meaningless amalgamation of a cosmically-scaled truckload of chance and a nebulous cloud of quantum mechanicky stuff beyond the comprehension of us mere mortals, that this does not damn us to an existence of apathy and aimlessness and that simply ‘being’ and experiencing all that one possibly can within their lifetime can be enough to bring fulfillment.

Thanks for the help in conjuring this little bubble of clarity within my all-too-often foggy aspergers sydrome diagnosed mind..

Yours sincerely,

One of your many fans from across the ditch.

Inoka Dias on 8th of November 2013

Good stuff Tim…this really pulled my feet back on to the ground with a hard knock on the head. Thank you :)

Jane on 4th of November 2013

Tim!

a few minutes before stumbling onto this, i was crying. I thought i just hit rock bottom. Constantly looking for that purpose. And until now i still haven’t found it. Maybe I should just stop looking. By the way im just 29.

Thank you for saving me. Brilliant!

Madeleine Brown on 1st of November 2013

Every time the doubt begins to impose itself upon me, I listen to this and find a renewed confidence in my studies and my self. I just want to say a massive thank you to Tim: this speech, the content, the delivery is AWESOME. It is AWE-FUL, even. It is utterly brilliant and it is helping me get through a very difficult period in my life.
I hope I have paid you due hommage in this article I wrote about the speech. http://www.palatinate.org.uk/?p=42192.
Thanks again, Tim.

Susanne Johnson on 27th of October 2013

So impressive, so eloquent, funny and true. You are an inspiration !

Prashant Sinha on 27th of October 2013

You are awesome!. Excellent Speech …

Olivia on 26th of October 2013

Lovely lovely thoughts. I stumbled upon this whilst in the midst of trying to articulate a confused hash of half-sprouted realisations that arose out of the trauma of the shocking reality of life breaking through my narrow perception of it.

So thank you

Neil on 23rd of October 2013

As thought provoking as ever … something I shall make a point of listening to on a regular basis. You have a knack of putting things into perspective.

Karthigeyan on 23rd of October 2013

I should admit, I did not know the definition of Science until now! till i read your explanation.

srinin on 23rd of October 2013

Wonderful speech.
I have a question though – just out of curiosity…
You say
“6. Be a teacher.
Please? Please be a teacher. Teachers are the most admirable and important people in the world….” Why do you say that?

Gregory Orange on 23rd of October 2013

Great speech, thank you Tim.

Caroline on 21st of October 2013

Awesome, awesome speech. I have shared this with so many people this last week and I keep coming back to it to swipe lines and text them to friends. Thank you!

Mary Del Casale on 20th of October 2013

You are a star! Both as an artist and as someone who can create a different kind of energy and light for this world. Thank you. M

aala on 19th of October 2013

I loved this. Especially what you said about teachers. In every school I have worked in I have been inspired by my colleagues who have the resolute strength to keep chipping away day in day out with the hope that they can pass something on to children whether they want to learn or not. Its the best job in the world and possibly one of the most important if not the most, in my humble opinion. Thank you.

Georgie on 19th of October 2013

Such an incredible speech, so realistic and to the point. Most inspirational man I know x

Sally on 18th of October 2013

Great speech!

Oz mum on 18th of October 2013

Congratulations Dr Tim. Watched your speech a while ago and did NOT forget it. Loved showing it to my 13 y.o. just then. Every time I see, hear, read your work I feel absolutely joyous. Thanks!

Sarea on 15th of October 2013

I can’t stop smiling when I see this. Yes yes yes!
It drives away the bull shit and brings me to a happy place with the universe.
So I’ve printed it and stuck if on the loo door…so I don’t forget.

Go you red-headed crazy wonder :)

Jacqueline Lonsdale-Cuerton on 14th of October 2013

Congratulations Tim Minchin. A very well thought speech. My 50 yr old son told me I, 72, should read it. We are all lucky but some are unlucky enough to not realise that and fail to grab their luck with both hands. There are no answers to why we are here but every day is a beautiful one even when it’s raining. In fact, for many, a rainy day is the very best. As long as the sun shines after. Thanks Tim; thanks son.

andrea on 14th of October 2013

I disagree is this inspirationel? I find it sad thinking.

steve on 13th of October 2013

My daughter at uni sent me a transcript of your speech. I would like to thank you for putting into words, much more eloquently than I can, everything that I consider important about being human. I was a teacher for 25 years. I have done my fair share of ‘spraying’ , but its great to get a message from your kid saying ” hey, dad. You might like this..” and then realise you got it right. Thanks.

Hannah Teale on 12th of October 2013

Absolute genius.

Love Hannah x

Lucy on 11th of October 2013

Congratulations Dr Minchin!
What an inspirational speech.
You never fail to deliver insight and humour!

Barb on 10th of October 2013

Thank you for your inspiration and for that sliver of light that pushed my suicidal son to the much brighter side!!

Laurel on 10th of October 2013

Tim, you never fail to entertain me. You’re entertaining even while delivering an inspirational speech. My friends and I are all great fans of your work and words. If ever the spirit moves you to do a show in the wilds of New Orleans, you will know it’s us – the freaks cheering from the cheap seats.

Laurie Trott on 10th of October 2013

Hi Tim,
I stood in our lettuce packing shed in Far North Queensland on Tuesday and listened to you on ABC Radio, and laughed and thought about your insights. We have followed your career with interest and delight ever since our colleague at The West Australian (then cadet journo and another bright star) Nick Miller enticed us along to your production of “Dark Library” at UWA in 1997. Thank you for your fun and inspiring take on life.

Phil Hunter on 9th of October 2013

Recently i had an amazing epiphany, things were not going all that great and did’nt make sense any more….. all of a sudden i really wanted to quit my dead end job, move to another city and enroll in a uni and study psychology, then i read your address on the net and thought….”why the F*&% would i want to do that”!!!…thanks for putting things in perspective Sir!!!

Jez on 9th of October 2013

On it, like a car bonnet.
Thanks Tim!

Brian James on 9th of October 2013

Hi Tim,
Extraordinary speech. You’re my second favorite speaker of all time, after Sir Ken Robinson.
Cheers
Brian

Shona on 8th of October 2013

Great wisdoms.Thank you for breaking down the hard stuff and for highlighting the joy and pleasure to be had in daily living.

For a woman past a certain age, both this address and the recent interview Kerry O Brien had with Clive James ,helped me prioritise the future of random meaning of life thunderclouds which descend and challenge.

Good work Tim!

Richard C on 8th of October 2013

I heard your wonderful speech, in my car, on ABC Radio this morning and sat in my car long after I’d parked, to hear the end of it. It made me laugh and it also made me quite melancholy. I’m 47, Ive worked hard, had a successful career, plenty of money in the bank etc – but, gee… how I wish someone said those words to me when I graduated and (importantly) that I’d listened to them, thought about them and acted on them. Well done you – please keep up your truly wonderful work. 9.9 out of 10

Why not a 10 out of 10? Well, please don’t bang on about anthropogenic climate change – you are way too clever.

Annie Warburton on 8th of October 2013

Tim’s best work since ‘Storm’. Bravo.

Zoe Timperon on 7th of October 2013

Best College/Univ grad speech ever! Thoughtful, provocative and while not your typical approach, it was inspirational to me and I believe it inspired the majority of those grads who heard it live. The nine tips are well explained and hit the spot…..not only did this speech touch all those at the grad it’s also touched thousands others through the sharing over the internet these past couple weeks. As I turn 60 in a couple months and graduated with a BS and MBA many moons ago, I’ve enjoyed listened to many grad speeches and found each to have a number of virtues. I also wrote and delivered many speeches during my 38 year working career…..they all paled in comparison to this one! Outstanding and kudos to you Tim! I look forward to hearing more from you.

Alex on 7th of October 2013

Thank you Tim for your beautifully crafted words, and for being the being you are. May your words and the circulation to your extremities always flow healthy and strong.

Lance on 5th of October 2013

Tim, you are a wise-guy :) Thanks

Luddy Salonda on 5th of October 2013

Absolutely captivating stuff! Beautifully written, deeply reflective yet inviting us to critique common values, beliefs and assumptions so to chart our own paths and meaning in life. Thank you for sharing.

Gabriel on 4th of October 2013

Inspiring, smart, funny, beautiful words. Mate you’re a legend, thank you so much. I’ve seen it about 6 times already and can’t get enough of it. Thanks again and all the best

kimble on 4th of October 2013

Way to Go Ginger, Look after the VLP and the anklebiters. Congratulations!

Ken on 4th of October 2013

HOMO ERUDITIS – please continue to inspire us!

Nick on 4th of October 2013

Thanks Tim, you had me at the Butterfly Club.
I’m so proud to have seen you then, and have always felt huge relief wash over me with your every next performance. (it’s different to an orgasm)
I’m sure it’s uncool to say, but you’re making perfect sense to me.
Keep reading, thinking, talking, writing, singing, because we’re listening and loving it, and we’re better off for having your take on it all sprayed around.
Congratulations, on this and all your work (play?), and make sure your family don’t lose you to the big machine.

Lina on 4th of October 2013

Truly, truly inspiring on so many levels……will revisit this awesome speech many times over……..THANK YOU FOR BEING ON THIS PLANET!!!

Stuart on 4th of October 2013

10. When Giving A Motivational Speech As A Millionaire Minstrel Receiving A Fake Qualification, Try To Avoid Taking The Piss Out Of Disabled People Working To Feed Their Families.

Read Minchin’s comments on the mountaineering guy. I am pretty sure he is talking about Jamie Andrew, and having read Life and Limb, I think he (or whoever the multiple amputee was that managed to put his life back together and feed his family as a motivational speaker) deserved better than to get ridiculed like that.

Jacqueline Williams on 4th of October 2013

Bravo Tim, and thank you! I wil spray your pro-stuff all over those I love and would care to listen. My last ten minutes was really well spent listening and re-playing you. I will keep your words close on every portable device I own. Congratulations.
Jacqueline

Janice S on 3rd of October 2013

Congratulations Tim. Your clever style of entertainment and dark humor makes me wish I had been born and raised in Australia instead of the U.S.A. – no entertainer here even comes close (however I’m not sure it would be tolerated and therein lies the problem). I’m a sixty year old TEXAN – we’re not all Bible-Thumpers I promise – so you should be very proud that you’ve crossed over to the American GERIATRIC population – forget Mr. Sony’s teen-age market – you don’t need ‘em! Love your music & wit and above all your sense of family. Take care and keep on rockin!

Libby on 3rd of October 2013

Congratulations Tim. You make me proud to be a UWA graduate too !
Well done ! Keep up the good work !

Ivan Ivetac on 3rd of October 2013

A very clever little man indeed!

Mhairi on 3rd of October 2013

Just great, Tim. Cheers.

Alex Russell on 2nd of October 2013

I have been waiting 13.8 Billion years for Tim Minchin

Adam on 2nd of October 2013

Tim, thank you.

The speech was just…brilliant.
You’re amazing. :)

Anna J on 2nd of October 2013

Work hard at school
Be nice to your mother
Tell your kids everyday that you love them
If you dont like peas, dont eat them

Anne Scerri on 2nd of October 2013

You deserve all the acolades you get Tim. Well Done!
I especially liked numbers 6 and 8.
All the very best for the rest of your ‘meaningless’ life. It’s bound to be incredibly full.

Alan on 2nd of October 2013

42!

Sarah on 2nd of October 2013

Just brilliant. That is all

Amina on 2nd of October 2013

Speechless – summarizes meaning for me

Tim Horstead on 2nd of October 2013

From one to Tim to another – thank you.

Lynne Moriarty on 2nd of October 2013

Clap, clap, clap, superbly wonderful,standing ovation! :)

Marty on 1st of October 2013

Thank you, Tim, for putting into words many of the ideas that lurked in my subconscious. I printed out all 7 pages of your speech and will paste them on the wall, to be revisited regularly.

Jane on 1st of October 2013

I was blown away with this speech. What fantastic genes! I discovered it yesterday and have watched it 3 times so far and shared it with my family & friends. We all need reminding regularly of these simple truths so articulately put. Congratulations Tim from one who is “nearly dead” but always willing to learn (and to teach), Your children are blessed

Bob on 1st of October 2013

Great speech! Just a few thoughts.
You don’t have to have a dream—YOU HAVE TO HAVE ALOT OF THEM

2. Don’t seek happiness IN ANY ONE THING BUT IN EVERYTHING YOU DO EACH DAY.

3. Remember, it’s all luck, SO WHEN IT COMES AROUND BE READY TO JUMP ON IT.

4. Exercise MIND BODY AND STOCK OPTIONS AS OFTEN AS YOU CAN

5. Be hard on your opinions AND DON’T BE TOO HARD ON OTHERS

6. Be a teacher BUT NOT EVERY MOMENT SHOULD BE A TEACHING LESSON WITH YOUR OWN TEENAGERS

7. Define yourself by what you love, AND WHO IS CRAZY ENOUGH TO LOVE YOU BACK.

8. Respect people with less power than you, AND AT LEAST PRETEND TO RESPECT THE ONES WITH MORE.

9. Don’t rush, BUT THE LINE CAN BE PRETTY LONG SO DON”T DILLY DALLY.

Patricia on 1st of October 2013

Congratulations! Wonderful speech. And did you blush a bit as you were presented with the degree? Just goes to prove your innate honesty & humility.

Colleen on 1st of October 2013

Listening to this speech was like drinking a nice warm glass of truth and knowledge with a splash of comedy. It made sense of and completed so many thoughts and feelings I was having on my own. Thank you for such a clear and profound statement. I’m so happy to know of you. Hope to catch a performance over here in NYC one of these days ;)

Melissa Contreras on 1st of October 2013

Dr Tim Minchin, you are truly so inspirational. I love the way you have eloquently made all of your valid points. I agree wholeheartedly with every single one, what you have said I agree with in life, you have done well to contribute to the Arts as much as you have so far. I have a Bachelor of Arts Honours Degree in Photography – go Arts Graduates! And Science Grads! Melissa x

Paula on 1st of October 2013

Incredibly well deserved. Congratulations, Tim. I do agree with the “genius” label.
Considering how much your other 8 points coincide with what I believe in and try to do in my life and my career, I guess I will have to take you up on the exercising thing, which I hasn’t been my strongest point so far…
Anyway, much love from the opposite end of the Southern Hemisphere (you’ve got plenty of fans in Buenos Aires, in case you didn’t know).

Matt Broom on 1st of October 2013

I’m also figuratively standing and applauding. It’s one of those speeches that distils a whole lot of what I think, consider and ‘believe’ in life. Thank you for your erudition and ability to disagree without animosity and persuade with humour. Number 8 and Number 5 are far too often ignored. Thank you!

Franklin on 1st of October 2013

I liked the eye-roll and what looked like “about to comment” after the ‘Divinely Inspired’ comment . . . .

karl on 1st of October 2013

Dr Tim I got this burning itch every time I . Oh not that kind a Dr. Ok see you thursday. In birmingham . England… ps thank you

Bill on 1st of October 2013

Loved all of your 9 lessons; Looking back from a point in my own very full life which is a bit less than twice as long as yours so far, I can say “yes”: However I could not have said so as well or as succinctly as you have. Thanks so much.

Stuart Mathieson on 1st of October 2013

Tim, in a Godless (and meaningless) cosmos style is everything and you got style!

Vikki on 1st of October 2013

Thank you Tim, I am In my first year of a social work degree, (at the old age of 53), you have given me some encouragement, especially with a philosophy essay that I have been procrastinating on.

Vikki on 1st of October 2013

Thank you Tim, I am actually supposed to be writing a 2000 word essay on philosophy, instead of listening to video clips, you have given me inspiration.

Lynda A on 1st of October 2013

Congratulations on your well-deserved doctorate. What a body of work you have accumulated so far in your ‘meaningless’ life. Thank you for your eloquent, irreverent, clever and thought provoking music, speeches and ponderings. All of which has given me much laughter and enjoyment over the years.

On another note – I won’t have forgotten this speech within a week! All 9 points are great advice and worthy of deep intelligent thought. For me though, I think the one that made me admire you more, was point 8 – respect for people with less power than you. On this point alone a person can judge the worthiness of another’s character. And you sir, and your character, are definitely worthy of my greatest respect.

Dr Tim Minchin, you make the world a better place for having been in it.

Barbara Dyck on 1st of October 2013

Finally – someone who understands that short passionate goals are satisfying, intense, and can lead to long lasting good. I never bought the whole “long term goals” notion when most people are trying to live day to day. Thank you for sharing your beautiful ideas with the world.

Ruth on 1st of October 2013

Congratulations on your award Tim, you have earned it! You are a great teacher. Your work which is not only inspirational but educational. Your beat poem, ‘Storm’, is often referenced in my classroom and utilised as a way of getting students to reflect on and challenge their own beliefs. You work enables my students to learn to think critically, in a fun and really engaging way. Thank You!

signed Tired and Bitter, With Baggage, from Ainslie on 1st of October 2013

you slack bastard Tim Minchin you got a Doctorate for not doing any Doctorate stuff. Get a haircut and a real job you ginger tinted taboo touting tinkling tune tooter. And where’s the tenth tip? Don’t you know there’s supposed to be ten!? Really, I wonder sometimes, just what is going on with you young people today. Seriously, I don’t know

Joanna on 1st of October 2013

Thank you Tim for a beautiful and inspiring speech! Many congratulations on your much deserved award.

Kim Wilson on 30th of September 2013

I am SO glad you are in the world Tim Minchin.

Victoria S Partridge on 30th of September 2013

LIFE CHANGING

Mary Kay on 30th of September 2013

Absolutely inspiring and brilliant!

Dr K on 30th of September 2013

Congratulations Dr Tim. I’ve been on that stage for graduation too…pretty special and I can see you thought so too.

Adore your speech. You had me at micro-ambition. I love this way of thinking. My micro-ambition has led me to get a PhD and to have had a very interesting life so far. Definitely no overarching dream tho, and I’m always scouting for shiny things :) Perhaps it’s more meso-ambition…

Great philosophy on life, and I look forward to the update if/when you change your mind.

Greg Perry on 30th of September 2013

I feel like a stranger has just given me the world’s most amazing gift.

Thank you Tim.

Liz Gallie on 30th of September 2013

Tim for world leader!

Grace C Keogh on 30th of September 2013

Brilliant words Tim! So glad I found this transcript otherwise I would’ve been writing it out myself just say I can keep quoting you!
You have a new fan here :)
cheers

Robyn Amair on 30th of September 2013

Thank you thank you ! I sent his to my children ( 23 yo & 21 yo ), I hope they are inspired, I was and I’m 57 .
I was wondering, may they come and live with you in London ? They are house trained, can cook, look after children,LOVE music, theatre and comedy.

Anyway thanks again and congrats on your Hon. Doctorate

Robyn

Thang on 29th of September 2013

Great speech!

Karen Pickard on 29th of September 2013

Dr Tim Minchin has a nice ring to it and congrats on an award that could even be named after you one day. Your expression of thought, ~ of deep, intelligent thought, ~ connects so beautifully to the physical, mental and emotional aspect of reason. You are indeed, an Australian Treasure and to me you are, Dr Tim SoulManMinchin. You sure know how to use your ‘letters’ Dr. <3 love your work <3

Andrea on 29th of September 2013

Your speech contains some really important life lessons, I really hope that those who listen to it will stop and truly consider each point carefully. You have managed to summarise these points so simply which is a sign of a great teacher. Congratulations on all of your wonderful achievements.

Andrea on 29th of September 2013

A wonderful speech, congratulations!

Galwin Fabian on 28th of September 2013

Been playing the vid several times over and I’d say I learned a lot from you. Thank you for being my teacher and congratulations, Tim!

David on 28th of September 2013

Inspiring and thought provoking

Jess on 27th of September 2013

Thank you Tim. xx

Ruth on 27th of September 2013

Thank you so much for posting this! It was so fantastic to be there hearing it in the room, and now I can share that with others, so thank you. Also thank you for making me feel slightly less stupid and redundant for having chosen to do an arts degree :)

Peter Strachan on 27th of September 2013

Great work Tim,
Congratulations. You really are in a position to make a huge difference to people’s lives and even the future of the planet (yes). Through the ages, the arts have always been a powerful communicator.
It could bugger up the rest of your life though, but it would be a great challenge.
No one remembers Frick as a steel man, they know him for his museum in NY and his collection, likewise, Mr Noble may have been a fine maker of explosives, but it is his legacy of awards fro good deeds that define’s him.

Kerry Logan on 27th of September 2013

Your wrong Tim. I will remember a bit of what you said. Thanks for (always) being so thoughtful. Kerry Albany WA

Brett Hansen on 27th of September 2013

All of this is wonderfully inspiring and real. Thank you for sharing, Tim. And congratulations!

Bill Hildreth on 27th of September 2013

Brilliant Dr. Tim. I cannot thank my daughter enough for posting this on Facebook so I can share this superb speech with my friends. You, Sir, are an erudite fellow (and whether you intend it or not), you are most definitely an inspirational speaker. Than you

Erin on 27th of September 2013

Dr Tim, I am auctioning one of your lessons and thanking you, among other things …….for teaching . Being from Perth myself, I claim you as a our own state/national treasure.

Melissa Tamraz on 26th of September 2013

The way your mind works makes me smile and nod. From this speech to Matilda. Please keep doing what you are doing, your contributions inspire many of us forward on days when we prefer to stay in bed with the Donna over our heads.
Bravo Sir Bravo!

Ros Blyth on 26th of September 2013

On reading this speech over several times (as with listening to the complexity of your songs) you have given students 9 amazing lessons (in a ‘Tim kind of way’). From the comments already written, you seem to have made a marked impression on many students and others who seem to be so grateful for your advice.

Through your lovely ramblings (only ‘Tim sort of speech’), empathy and compassion come out as well as advice on how to be upstanding, healthy, hardworking with an enquiring mind, constantly learning and sharing and a focussed citizen…and all coming from an icon of our time – someone not so far from their age who they can relate to and learn from the life experiences you have gathered in your life.

I agree with and have learnt most of the 9 life lessons but to Respect People with Less Power than You is an important one.

Like the comment from George Farmer, life is racing on too quickly so enjoy each moment and fill it fully in this beautiful wonderful world.

Garry E-s on 26th of September 2013

shut up, Tim (aight speech tho)

Joel C Adelaide on 26th of September 2013

So much sense.

E. on 26th of September 2013

Congratulations Tim :)

Thank you for such a memorable graduation. Your speech was real, relevant and inspiring. Everything you said really resonated with me and I feel very lucky to have been there – it was just what I needed to hear.

robin on 26th of September 2013

Nice. I’m betting that only one thing will change as you age. Actions of those past do have some responsibility for our current “luck”. And working for progress is not wasted, at least in the short (one generation) run.
Cheers,
Robin

... on 26th of September 2013

Number 8… MAKES meaning.

Cynthia on 26th of September 2013

I agree your life is not meaningless, when you have touched so many people’s souls. But in the grander scheme of life in general we are but a blimp on the radar, only if anyone can achieve to the magnitude that you have sir. You give me more than inspiration, you give me great hope. That if I relax, then maybe I’ll find what truly will bring me happiness in work. That’s hard to do for anyone and I appreciate your hilarious wisdom. Thank you doctor;)

MÔNICA MARIA MONTENEGRO DE OLIVEIRA on 26th of September 2013

Well done !!! What an amazing speech – loved it. Thanks for sharing with us.
Best wishes from Brazil.

Simon Veitch on 26th of September 2013

Xlnt!

Science essentials on 26th of September 2013

Such truth – eloquence – you are such a gift to us , thank you

Sian Morton on 26th of September 2013

Well deserved! Great speech. Congratulations.

Thomas Faulkner on 26th of September 2013

That was honestly the best speech I have ever heard.

David Rabl on 26th of September 2013

Congratulations Tim. This was a magnificent oration – totally in keeping with what I have seen from you in the past. For your sake I hope Freo do well in the Grand Final (but not well enough to win – I remain a Victorian)

Jenny Burgess on 26th of September 2013

This was so inspiring I will share it with my three
sons and daughter.I wish I knew all those things when I was 20.

Marianna on 26th of September 2013

Congratulations Tim.

You have been an inspiration to me and I thank you for your teaching.
There is no end to the depth of you, you are amazing.

Thank you for sharing yourself with the world.

Dannielle Finnerty on 26th of September 2013

Thanks for putting this up. Greatly appreciated. It was a great speech to graduate to.

Janet on 26th of September 2013

Aw, the chancellor is cute as a button – he’s got one of those wonderfully open faces and looks positively tickled throughout.
I’m going to find out more about him.

Alys on 26th of September 2013

Thank you, that was wonderful.
Also, if just one bloke decides to become a primary school teacher because of what you said, that would make a huge difference in a bunch of kids lives. Kids need teachers of both genders and there is a real imbalance at the moment.
Hey you! Be a teacher!

Trystan Perry on 26th of September 2013

Congratulations Dr. Minchin!

Alison on 26th of September 2013

I could listen to Tim all day. His speech is relevant today, 20 years ago and 20 years from now. So glad I discovered him. I am always amazed, inspired and in awe of Tim whenever I hear something new from his brain. Simply great.

Kim Aubrey on 25th of September 2013

Tim, your words make you seem so much older than you are. It’s lovely to have young company in the Wisdom of the Elders group :) Keep it up forever. It is so refreshing and exhilarating to know that there are young people out there with brains. Thank you for renewing my faith in evolution. And congratulations on the award!

Steve Vanden-Eykel on 25th of September 2013

Nice speech. Now distill it into a beat poem.

George Farmer on 25th of September 2013

My son put this on his Facebook page, I’m so glad he did. I’m approaching the end game with life. I wake up in the morning & if alive think what a great day, I’ll be very disappointed the day I wake up dead.
Life is exciting, to all your young listeners I can only say listen to real wisdom. Maybe I agree with you is because I am interested in everything that is happening or has happened. I have a ‘butterfly mind’ & when I see or hear something I think is interesting then I must persue it. Live, don’t moan because whatever happens you have just one shot at this life business so make the most of it

Sam on 25th of September 2013

Thank you for this. It’s just wonderful.

Have a lovely day! And thank you, again.

Sam

Helena Guerrrero on 25th of September 2013

Congratulations Tim! what an excellent speech. You are really gifted as an artist and an amazing human being… But excuse me for not agreeing with you as I believe your life is definetely NOT meaningless, you help so many people through your music, humor/comedy and now throu your “inspirational speech” :)

Regina on 25th of September 2013

hey much better hearing it, congrats again..you sounded awesome!1 :) xxx

Julia on 25th of September 2013

Were you thinking at the end when that dude was talking about your achievements “Oh yeah, I did do that!”

Christine Geltner on 25th of September 2013

Tim, you are a legend to those of us who cannot put into words the things you manage to say, so elequently. Thank you for being there for us. You’ve made my day by watching this wonderful and moving speech.

Michael Wilt on 25th of September 2013

Great advice through and through.

Kate on 25th of September 2013

Thank you. I am a teacher who has been taught over the last ten or so years by YOU.

Pam on 25th of September 2013

The most sensible way of looking things I have heard for awhile. Well done

Helena on 25th of September 2013

Breathtaking.
Thank you!

Дуже вам дякую!

mike on 25th of September 2013

bravo sir!

Tammi on 25th of September 2013

Yay Dr Tim!!

Nicole on 25th of September 2013

Congratulations.
And thank you.

Kierah on 25th of September 2013

Five hundred and forty-six days. That is how long I have until I get to sit, in a cap and gown, and feel more proud of myself than I will have ever felt before. Except, that’s five. hundred. and. forty. six. days. away. I was feeling incredibly disheartened by the whole unendingness of it all, and of feeling like I should be “out there,” in the world, doing “stuff” with my life already. Thank you for reminding me what I’m here for, and for reminding me to be thankful for just how lucky I am to be able to learn whatever I like, every single one of those five hundred and forty six days I have left.

Andrea on 25th of September 2013

That was great! You would be a great teacher.

Robin on 25th of September 2013

Great speech :)

Rachel on 25th of September 2013

I’m at the end of my arts degree and this is the good talking to I needed. Thank you x

A. on 25th of September 2013

please consider this comment as a thank you, a miniature standing ovation

Uju on 25th of September 2013

One word: brilliant.

Alright, I’m gonna add a few extra since I do believe in life purpose and the pursuit of happiness, but I love how you expressed this anyway and didn’t pick a fight with those of us who search for meaning!

Thanks for this :-)

lyndsey on 25th of September 2013

Love it Dr Tim! You look so proud x

Hamish on 25th of September 2013

Whether or not you are an inspirational speaker, you inspire me, Tim. Thank you for being my teacher :)

Terry Cain on 25th of September 2013

I am inspired!!! Love your work ;)

Suzanne on 25th of September 2013

Excellent speech! I ended up transcribing it last week, due to impatience. :)

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