Commencement season is just around the corner. Whether in person or over a live-stream, graduates and their families will follow the long-honored tradition of listening to speeches studded with unoriginal chestnuts like following your dreams, shooting for the stars, and believing that you can do whatever you set out to do.
But that message doesn’t seem appropriate at this moment. Our greatest ambitions, personal and professional, have been systematically frustrated by the pandemic, as the weeks have turned to months have turned to more than a year. Perhaps the words of the English satirical poet Alexander Pope are a better fit. In 1727, he gave his friend John Gay a piece of advice, in the form of a ninth beatitude: “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.”
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