There is a special place in my heart and memory of Speech Day. With the exception of caught cuddles and obligatory waves at weekly sports matches, Speech Day marked the end of the school year and moments away from the long summer with my family. I fondly remember the excitement of waiting to catch that first glimpse of my Mumbo. She was always so glamourous and beautiful but because she was so little would always wear a hat, just so that I could see her arrive in the crowds.
Today was my first ‘grown up’ Speech Day at middle school, with the announcements of yearly prizes, accomplishment and accolade, and even though I had dropped Tom off that morning, I still felt the nervous butterfly excitement of walking in to the huge hall and looking out for him. We caught each other’s eye, his coy, trying so hard to be the cool dude and not caring. But I know him too well. I know he was looking for me, forgetting my hair was still blond.
While Speech Day is the occasion to mark achievement in academia, sports and music, I was more than pleasantly surprised to hear the two key speakers focus more on individuality and uniqueness. One using fingerprints as the metaphor to be yourself, leave your own mark no matter how big or small. The other using the legacy of the Greeks and their two meanings of time; Chronos being the passing of actual seconds but more importantly Kairos, the right moment, ‘your time’ being now.
But my key take away and one I am inspired to put in to action, is the ‘to be list’. I love my lists, my to do lists and ticking them off, mentally, physically and feeling that sense of achievement. The guest speaker, an author of children’s books and researcher of happiness (!), Andrew Cope, reminded us all that we all had, on average, 4000 weeks of life and it was up to us to decide what to do with those weeks, hours and seconds. And we would all be wise to remember, that when we are gone, that over nibbles, drinks and sandwiches, our loved ones left behind, will be talking about who we were and not what we did.
Tom may not be prize worthy in the academic sense now and may be not in the future, but it was the words of the headmaster as we said our goodbyes that made me more proud than any subject, sporting or musical award.
“Tom is a delight to be around, he will do well wherever or whatever he does.”
I hope one day they equal the number of school prizes for character, value and individuality as they do achievement. But then again, maybe those who would be awarded those prizes don’t need it, they are far too happy living in the moment, appreciating Kairos and enjoying the celebration of others.