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Carrie Mae Weems’s commencement address on INNOVATION (condensed version)

How do we measure a life? By what means and by what measure? Do you measure it inch by inch, step by step, crawl by crawl? How do you measure a life? Do you measure it day by day or year by year? Do you measure it by yesterday or by today? Do you measure it by the miles walked or the mountains climbed? How do you measure a life? By the dreams imagined or by the hopes dashed? By the wisdom of wise words spoken or by the sorrow of silence? By the wealth accumulated or by the amount spent? By defeats and or by victories, large and small? Do you measure it by the forgotten or the remembered? By all the near-misses and the exhaustion, or by the ability to endure? How do you measure a life? By the end or by the beginning? By the friends gathered around you, by the support that you are offered? How do you measure a life?

I think of my self as dust in the wind, and in going to be here just for a second- that’s about it. When you think about the vastness in which we dwell, we are dust in the wind and yet we are here.

Sooner or later, everyone of you will have to determine for yourselves what success and what failure are. You will have to establish your own standards. Think very deeply and profoundly about what it is that you really want and what it is that you need in your life.  Art, INNOVATION is very demanding. It is extremely difficult, requiring tremendous courage, enormous sacrifices and great risk. As an INNOVATOR you work and work and work. But your vision is not formed, your distinctive DNA is not there yet. There is endless doubt, searching high and low for your own voice. You feel the forces of the world are conspiring against you. And yet, and still the pursuit allows you no rest. INNOVATION IS A DEMANDING MISTRESS.



Categories: Article Summary Philosophical Perspective

ron winnegrad

Ron Winnegrad has been a Perfumer and teacher for 46 years. As a perfumer, Ron has been able to express the world he sees through a rainbow of olfactive and emotive visions. As a teacher, Ron has helped others to see fragrance through his own multi sensorial lens.

2 replies

  1. You have described well what it is to LIVE. When one walks through a cemetery, the headstones reveal the dates of each short life span. But it is the dash in between the dates that determines what standards were established for that life lived. Yes, my friend, we are dust in the wind, but while the day calls, we must pick ourselves up, look in the mirror and seize the day, always on the lookout for opportunities. Break precedent!; Explore new methods!; Create novel! Time flies by swiftly, measure it well.


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