I’ve had an on-again off-again interest in Henry Rollins for about 20 years now, starting in high school and probably peaking just after college. Over lunch today I was talking about his former band Black Flag with a coworker who mentioned that Henry gave a commencement address a few years back. Needless to say, I had to look it up. In addition to a link to this page on the Sonoma State University website, I also discovered this article that was written only a week ago and included an excerpt from the speech. It’s from a blog I now recommend (HELLO, my name is BLOG), if only because of the Henry Rollins quote. Actually, the rest of the blog looks great and I look forward to paging through the archives.
Anyway, the article is about being a mental omnivore, and the Henry Rollins quote from his commencement speech fits right in:
Your curiosity must never wane! Ever. You are, therefore you want to know, want to go, want to know more and want to go further. As college graduates, you know all too well how much there is to know and the incalculable amount of fascinating things there are to explore, from thought to geographic destination.
It is your curiosity that you must enhance, strengthen and value, more and more as the years go on and on. It is your curiosity that you must guard against exhaustion, apathy and that awful plague called middle age.
Yes, you are allowed occasional but brief vacations from your curiosity: Box sets of television shows and carbohydrate rich foods are permitted – but don’t make a career out of it.
It is your curiosity that you will pass on like a genetic trait to your children, infect all those around you like a virus and inspire the anger of those who have chosen to admit defeat.
Because one of the greatest and most powerful words in any language is: Why.
When you stop wanting to find out, you’re done. There are few things more unendurable than being forced to spend time with someone who is intellectually incurious.
This can never be you. Ask a question. Go forth. Arrive at the answer. Catch your breath. Ask Why. And then set off again. Never relent.
What a great quote! I like the idea of being a mental omnivore. I can appreciate that there’s something inherently interesting or curious about every person, place, or thing you run into. There’s always a way to make something better or easier. There’s always something you can learn from a situation. (As-in: it’s not a failure if you learn from it.) There’s always another great discussion waiting to be had, or a different perspective waiting to be heard. Pretty cool stuff.
Now I like Henry Rollins even more.