Address to the Green School graduates of 2014
To our graduates – this is the first time I have had the honour to address you. You are awful.
I was going to say awesome. But I think you are more than that – you have filled me with awe. So “awful”, in its original context – full of awe, is appropriate.
To our graduate parents – this is also the first time I have had the opportunity to address you formally. Thank you sincerely for your support and belief in the magic and value of Green School. I, too, have been in your position – as my first daughter graduated last year from her high school.
I know the pride that swells in this room but let me dial that down a tad by giving you some important information I read yesterday: Half of recent college graduates are still relying on money from their parents after obtaining their degrees, a new study from the University of Arizona finds.
To our graduates – I am intent on offering ten minutes of my mind. Take it or leave it. I hope some of my words may settle on you.
I would like to discuss Awareness. Let me start by commenting on the power of logic – logos – the word. In the beginning was the word. This ability to communicate with language, a language glittering with words created over generations in order to define our thoughts, our emotions and our memories, is our distinction – it makes us human.
Use language. Discover different ways of thinking through the printed thoughts of others – and your own – over time. Write a letter to yourself aged 40 – then read it on your 40th birthday. You will discover how intelligent you really were. And in the process you are celebrating humanity’s distinction. Language defines our thoughts – and our awareness.
David Lynch stirred my thinking by stating…
If you have a golf-ball-sized consciousness, when you read a book, you’ll have a golf-ball-sized understanding; when you look out a window, a golf-ball-sized awareness, when you wake up in the morning, a golf-ball-sized wakefulness; and as you go about your day, a golf-ball-sized inner happiness. But if you can expand that consciousness, make it grow, then when you read about that book, you’ll have more understanding; when you look out, more awareness; when you wake up, more wakefulness; as you go about your day, more inner happiness.
Read and reread and proofread! Time travel and journey by reading good books.
Awareness is a conscious contemplation and, for all our futures, we need you to be educated so you can consider the consequences of our actions. We need you to be care-takers of this planet and its finite resources.
At some time, or times, in your life you are going to ask, “What is the purpose of life? What’s the point?” – When this happens, you are looking too small – you are sweating the small stuff; it is all about your viewpoint. Understand a point is just a spot, a small dot – step back and see the bigger picture, the inter-connectedness of everything, and the important part you play. It takes lots of colour points to paint the big picture.
Be curious. Be aware inflexibility and vanity erode curiosity. Be open to others. Never think you are better or wiser than another – give everyone the time of day and they may leave you with a thought for life.
Be wise enough to be wary of people who tell you they know the answer. Be strong enough to listen but not weak enough to believe without question. Question to search… not to prove. In this modern era when sound bites and viewpoints are circulated widely, be prepared to make your own judgment. Don’t send emails after ten o’clock at night. Don’t read emails after ten o’clock at night.
Understand everyone can justify why they are right by distinguishing how others are wrong. Very few people justify why they are wrong by acknowledging other people have been right. Try to trust in people and by so doing become trustworthy. The greatest corruption is thinking money defines the solution.
Be patient, let things settle so thoughts can be perceived in context. Answers, just like questions, benefit from the passage of time, in order to make better sense. It was Jane Goodall’s patience and persistence that led to her earning David Greybeard’s trust. Trust takes time. There will be people who seek to hold you back. Usually they do so because they fear for the worst, or they wish to protect – or they are jealous you dare to dream.
Be prepared to dream. Dreams come from the heart – not the head. Dream big but act small. Inspiration stems from yourself – finding your compelling desire – not from another person’s ability to motivate.
Realise there is no perfection. If the grass seems greener on the other side – learn to fertilise your own.
Will power needs your will. It takes effort. Nothing succeeds like success.
Know evil – and then do no evil; be kind – humankind: your support of each other and our planet is all our safety net and it is your responsibility.
Don’t smoke – I have lost three friends before their time – all with loving families. You can take control – don’t let others or other things control you because if feels good, especially if the science clearly shows the consequence is harm.
Whatever material possession you desire will lose its lustre soon after you own it and the next best thing will take its place. Remember – credit is impatience tax.
Keep in touch. School friends are those who know your authentic vulnerabilities. When you reconnect, you will return to who you are now. Take control. But also console. You have a responsibility to others. Understand the virtue of loyalty. If a friend falls out with another friend – don’t pass judgment; they may resolve their issues but they will not forget your comments. Be slow to judge but quick to help. The first step to wisdom is saying I don’t know. The second is sourcing another’s support. Stay united – just one little deviation can make united untied.
To quote the master wordsmith, Charles Dickens:
“Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.”
If you are sensitive, you will find there are physical and emotional links formed through acquaintances – support is always available if you seek it. Leave light footprints – be graceful. Some stomp through life.
Protect your privacy – the internet is not your friend. It will store forever your interest, your images, your comments for reflection – in your most vulnerable state.
At times you will find things align – there are universal connections. This is called serendipity. Have faith. Have hope – hope is the positive belief things are for the best. Live a life of gratitude – being thankful for what you have achieved – not worrying about what you could. Tension is purely the agitation from knowing where you are and where you think you might want to be.
Don’t worry – the things that worry you most rarely happen. It is the things you least expect that will cause you the greatest distress. Also understand, life is full of contradictions – do worry if it leads to positive action.
Remember, every day you are a guest on spaceship earth enjoying a free cruise around the sun.
Whatever you do, do it to your best. The purpose of life is living a life of purpose. Live in the moment, with an eye on the past and a focus on the future. Understand the “unforgiving minute” – you won’t until your time is running out.
This is your time; how it passes; how we define our time, will be how we define ourselves and, more importantly, how we set things up for the future. We will all be judged objectively by our great grandchildren.
Love others more than you love yourself. Rebel but don’t repel – and be aware life has been lived successfully by billions of people over thousands of years.
The key to unlock success is simplicity – don’t over think things. Make the ordinary extraordinary. And don’t think a new idea is new – it will have been thought of before by someone at some time. Learn from their mistakes. Research how it turned out. Be aware, for awareness is the foundation of positive action – and awareness of what needs positive action is the pure definition of sustainability in motion – awareness is sustenance for the soul.
Live, love, hope, trust, act and learn – together. Be solution-finders, future-fixers – not worry-makers.