Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Some inspiration

Graduation day speeches are meant to be inspirational. Steve Jobs speech at Stanford is probably his most famous one. Just came across this piece by President of NUS:

I see three paths ahead of you – those of the Koi, the Bluefish and the Atlantic Salmon.

Of all the fishes in the world, the Koi has the most comfortable life. When young, it is carefully selected and bred for its beauty. It then spends its entire life in a sheltered environment, living in order to be admired by others.  The Koi is also fragile – change the water by a bit, and the Koi perishes.  People who are like the Koi play it safe and do not venture out; they thrive in the established system. Then, there is the path of the Bluefish. Some years ago, I went deep sea fishing in the Atlantic Ocean. I caught a bluefish. It was not a large fish, yet it put up a strong fight. And when I reached inside its mouth to take out the hook, it bit right through my thick gloves into my finger, almost biting it off. The captain said to me: "You must be a first-timer at ocean fishing. Ocean fishes like the bluefish are tough and fierce. Have you been fishing only in small ponds?"

People who are like the Bluefish take risks and embrace life, seizing the abundant opportunities of the vast ocean. While others are exhausted by a changing environment, Bluefish types thrive in it. This is the path of the worldly Bluefish. Home can be anywhere – and perhaps, nowhere.

Finally, there is the path of the Atlantic Salmon. Born in freshwater streams, it heads out to the open seas in young adulthood. After maturing in the ocean, the Atlantic Salmon returns to where it was born, to breed, and then heads out again. It makes this journey between its home and the open sea several times over its lifetime.

People who are like the Atlantic Salmon are at ease moving between the old and the new, between the familiar and the unfamiliar, between what is comfortable and what is challenging. While they seize opportunities to grow in the global arena, they understand the true meaning of home. Home is not just anywhere. Home is where the heart is. Home is about identification and commitment, about family and nation.

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