that desk in the Red White and Blue office was hard work. I felt the sweat on my face running around that desk. It taught me that if you wanted to get something done, you had to get up early in the morning. When asked what my secret is to being successful, my answer has always been get up earlier in the morning. There is nothing that you can’t accomplish when standing on two feet. When you are lying down, all you accomplish is some REM sleep and working out your dream life.
When I graduated, which I did just barely in the fall after I made up a half course in math, which I had failed, I got my degree. In September I landed my first professional job in a small acting company in Montreal at Mount Royal.
The bothersome thing was that I got the job as an assistant manager by telling them I got a bachelor of commerce degree and I was adept at accounting and banking. This was the only other lie I ever told. The first one being that I hadn’t set fire to the principal’s car. It wasn’t long before they discovered two things: that I had no accounting skills whatsoever—my math skills are really bad—and that I was a good actor.
My talents didn’t lie in the field of accounting. My father, who paid for my education, was not amused. But my talents lay in trying to be funny and entertaining people. Although I didn’t study that per se—that’s Latin by the way.
(NOTE: Huge round of applause from the Latin Club.)
I did get my education complete, whole, and useful at McGill. I got it in my own way. I urge all of you to get it your way. Don’t be afraid of taking chances, of striking out along paths that are untrod. Don’t be afraid of failing. Don’t be afraid of making an ass of yourself. I do it all the time—and look what I got.
With that, I held my honorary doctorate aloft, as proud as I could possibly be.
I sat back down and scanned the crowd, here at the institution where I started my adult life. In a few weeks, I would also be getting another lifetime achievement honor from the governor general of Canada.
Which reminds me—hey, United States? Let’s get busy with the honors and accolades! Do you want to lag behind Canada in the race to honor William Shatner?
So what does one do after so many awards and accolades?
Get to work on winning some more.
There’s finality to this life achievement business that I want no part of. As long as you’re able to say “yes,” the opportunities keep coming, and with them, the adventures. Say “no” to fear and complacency. Keep saying “yes,” and the journey will continue.
In this, the eightieth year of my life, I should be settling down, taking it easy, resting on laurels. Forget it.
This rocket ride of a life I’m strapped to just keeps hurtling on and on, faster into the unknown. Will I be ejected, rejected, or dejected? What will happen with my new album? What will happen with this book? With the family? With my TV stuff? The horses? With all the wonderful adventures Elizabeth and I are sharing and will continue to share?
I have no idea. But the rocket keeps going, and I keep holding on.
I think perhaps my rule of saying “yes” has been a way for me to
I’m controlling the sometimes wild trajectory of my existence. The fact of the matter is, I’ve been lucky enough to have life say “yes” to me, time and time again. Perhaps there’s no way to control anything. Perhaps the best thing to do is work hard, hold on, and enjoy the view.
I’m not done yet. There are many lives in a lifetime. There are many things I would like to achieve that I haven’t. I’ll place these degrees, these awards, on my mantel, as a constant reminder of what I have yet to achieve.
Whatever else happens, I’ll be sure to let you know. And thanks for saying “yes” to going along on this crazy rocket ride with me.
RULE: To Friends, It’s Always “Bill”
I would like to thank my editor, Carrie Thornton, who came up with the idea for this book and came calling. I’m glad she did. To her assistant, Stephanie Hitchcock, thank you for being so on top of every detail. Speaking of being on top of every detail, I’d be sunk if it weren’t for my assistant, Kathleen Hays, who has all the answers and is always so nice to be around. To our publisher, Brian Tart, our publicist, Amanda Walker, and all of the Dutton/Penguin team I say a hearty
. And to Paul Camuso for keeping me on the cutting edge
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