Tomorrow is graduation day for our 8th graders. Its a sad day because they are leaving but also because for some, this will be their only graduation they will attend. Which is such a heartbreaking shame. I was asked to speak tomorrow and I thought about what I wanted to impart to my students. What life lesson do I have to offer? What could I tell them that is short but meaningful?
I came up with this (tell me if its any good, will you?):
I was thinking about the idea of getting things for free. When you are under the age of 18, you often get everything for free, free shelter, free food, free gifts, free clothes… I personally offer free instrument rentals to students, the art teacher offers free arts supplies to create things… It’s all free. Even your education is free.
Society though, is telling you that free is cheap. Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash- we don’t care we are caught up in that love affair. Don’t tell me that all of you don’t want a pair of KDs, which are truly just an excellent pair of tennis shoes. We need to buy, buy, buy, because free is cheap, free is something unvalued. Who wants something that has no price tag?
You know what’s free?
Love is free, like the love your parents give to you every day when they get up to go to work so that you have what you need- no matter how sick or tired they might be.
Kindness is free. When you need anyone to help you understand something, or understand you, and they take the time to listen, that kindness is free.
Friendship is free. That true friendship, where all you need to do is call someone up, and they are ready to hang out with you. They listen to you, they let you be silly, say stupid things, and still are willing to be your friend, that friendship is free.
Trust is free. When you trust that friend of yours, the one you can tell anything to about anything, and know in your heart and mind, that you can trust they will have your back and be there for you, that trust is free.
Forgiveness is free. Forgiveness from your teachers when you really don’t want to be here today, and instead of your teacher getting mad at that thing you shouldn’t have said; and you really shouldn’t have said that, they give you a second, third, and fourth chance- that forgiveness is free.
Hope is free. Like the hope that through your education your future will take off into a direction that makes your life into something happy, which, I should remind you that happiness is free as well.
No matter what you decide to do with your life, my hope for your future is that, your life is filled with forgiveness, that you are surrounded by love and kindness, and that you have true friends that you can trust. That your world is, in essence, happy and your mind and heart are free.
Those things, those worthwhile, amazing, free things aren’t cheap. Now think about that, as you go to high school. Keep that value in your minds as you grow into the person you are meant to be. Value these things that you will never outgrow, never need to save up to buy, never have to replace.
I’m not sure if its any good but, as I tried to convince another student why they had to replace a completely shattered instrument:
and explain to them how yes, its free but its still worth something… I just thought, our kids dont really see value in it unless it cost them a lot of money. A lot of money. This made me think of that little idea of free.
(Update: it went really well, I got a lot of claps and some cheers. A couple of teachers thought it was a “good thing to say.”)