One of my avid readers requested more from Dr. Smith’s Last Lecture (a Hillsdale tradition, in which a professor gives a lesson as if it were his last). So below I have typed out my notes. It’s not possible that they would do justice to the lecture — a friend and I left the Heritage room weeping and had to go home and lie on the couch and think about our lives. It was the most beautiful and moving speech I have ever heard. If any of you remember any more of the wonderful things he said, feel free to add them in the comments.
“Letter to my sons”
Given life again, I would waste it for you.
#2 Consider often the work of Providence.
#3 Study tempests in times of calm.
#4 Never try to give and withhold yourself at the same time.
#5 Examine your own eyes. Think about your way of seeing. You can live only seeing yourself, and it’s terrible. Ask God to heal the eyes of your heart.
#7 Beware of complaining and offense-taking. They are often nothing but sound and fury. Once a bitcher, always a bitcher. Learn to govern your tongue.
#9 Don’t be a slave to tequila. Love freedom. Bear fruit. Have courage; have an education in it; see its beauty.
#12 Wonder. Let the passion of seeing your own ignorance move you to seek truth.
#13 Let the arrows of beauty pierce you.
#14 Treasure your reason. And remind it that it is never the measure of all things.
#15 Fulfill duties. Esto vir. Be a citizen of citizens.
#17 Some books are worth more than great cities. Find a guide you can trust.
#18 Love the Word of God passionately. Only take care to read it in the right spirit. You must adapt to it.
#19 Say “bullshit” to anyone who says he doesn’t have a conscience.
#20 Confess your sins. Examine yourself every day with brutal sincerity and courage. Love truth and the crises it creates.
Never let it be said that you talk to the guy at the coffee cart more than you talk to your own brother.
#21 You have a vocation — ask for light about this.
#22 Love your work. What folly it is to moan and groan. Convert the prose of life into beautiful verse.
Hamlet was wrong: The undiscovered country is not death, but life.
#23 Pray, and give alms.
#24 Make good friends and keep them in good and bad times.
Risk your life for love. Struggle to be holy.