I wrote this piece and read it to the F10 students at their Island School graduation this last Tuesday December 7th. I post this so that they may remember my message and be reminded to take this incredible opportunity and use it to give back to give back to the world. If I could choose a single message to leave you with today it is this: You are blessed.
You were given this glorious opportunity. A sea swift appeared one day in your life, a messenger beckoning you here. The stars aligned, the winds changed course. One day this chance flew your way. Perhaps it was a friend recently returned from Island School, perhaps it was your dad, last winter, sitting by the fire, telling you about this school you should look into. Perhaps as the sea swift came into view you saw the magnitude of its shadow and you were scared. You were scared to go away, scared for something new, scared to be left alone for 48 hours. Alone, just you, alone. But you came anyway. Or, perhaps you wrestled and wrangled and called the swift into your life: “Come here! Right now! I am ready!” Perhaps The Island School was just your kind of adventure. And you came, because of course you would come to a place like this.
No matter how you arrived here: frightened and trembling or beaming with confidence and passion, you came.
And you are so lucky that you did.
This place is a blessing.
Do not forget that you are blessed. YOU.
Every second that I stand here and speak a new word to you, people suffer throughout the world. Children cough with cholera. Parched mouths crack like desert sand breaks, hoping, wishing for water. People are fighting and killing each other: people on streets, people in wars. Someone sits somewhere and screams from memories like pain. Ignorance spreads like wildfire. A glacier calves and screams crashing into melting oceans. A polar bear falls off the face of the earth. A deep water shark dives, swims, and dies, too deep to be seen or noticed.
And you are here, so lucky. But, do not be ashamed of your opportunity. Be humbled and let your heart fill with gratitude. Let your heart fill. Feel it fill. Sit quiet for a moment with me and feel your heart welling up so big and full that you could fill oceans with fresh tides of thank you.
You are blessed.
Now, give back to the world.
A candle is useless unless it illuminates the way for others. Light leads to light, leads to light. Share your light with others. One light burning bright alone is blinding. Do not blind others with your glory, inspire them with your guidance.
Go home with your humble flame, the kind that lights up a room. Share it freely. “The impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.”
Go home and do not forget, in your sadness, in your homesickness for this place, in your loss and renegotiated self, do not forget that you are blessed. YOU.
You were given this glorious opportunity, now you owe the world something back.
Bring light that illuminates.
Share your glory.
Smile and be humble.
And do not forget that you are blessed.