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Your official speaker will exhort you to climb every mountain and follow your passion. Your paternal speaker suggests that you climb every other mountain and keep your shirt on. But he does have a few thoughts to offer, culled from half a century of immeasurable wisdom. They should just about cover the page.

Do your own laundry. Your college will undoubtedly provide some easy pickup service, but my advice is, do the things yourself. The generation that runs the country now grew up leaving trash in the streets for others to haul away. If you take care of your own mess, you'll be surprised how clean you'll feel. Use Tide on pizza stains.

Believe in institutions--governments, universities, families, all that. No one believes in institutions anymore, not even the institutions, but endurance is not chopped liver. You are an institution (quite a fine one, if your mother and I are any judge), a composition of tested parts that have evolved into a body that stands.

Believe in institutions, but do not marry them. Establishments exist to moderate; they look for function. You are likely to work for some company or other, but keep a safe distance. There is no contempt as bitter as that felt by compromised minds for the independent ones that have joined them. Grin broadly at the water cooler, and go home to where you live.

On that: If you decide to live in the city, choose a neighborhood where the houses are low-built--brownstones or frame jobs with little gardens out front or back--so that you can always see a mass of sky and preserve a sense of scale. If you live in the country, go to the sea rather than the mountains, which, while monumentally beautiful, will depress you over time. If you live near your parents, excellent.

As for how you live, be out of things as much as possible, without acting like a crank. Daydreams are part of reality too. When your old man was caught gazing out a classroom window, the teacher would ask him, "Would you care to rejoin the group?" He always thought, "Not really."

Do not mistake knowledge for learning. Real learning comes from being out of things, from taking the information you acquire and carting it off to a state of reverie. "We must learn to imagine what we know"--that was Shelley's advice.

Which reminds me: Spend some portion of each day studying beauty, in any form. Especially study the line, be it in Shakespeare or Conrad, or in a song by Louis or Ella, or in a drawing by Jules Feiffer or Chuck Jones. The line is the basic unit of beauty.

Spend some other portion of the day in idleness, ardent and blissful idleness. Young people today work too hard, are worked too hard, for no purpose but someone else's gain. At the same time, keep up your love of sports. (I know I hardly have to tell you that.) Sports are about clean victories and perpetual renewals; every old game has a definite end, and every new one is a world reborn. Jogging is nice, but be sure to play something you can win. Winning is nicer.

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