When you have no more to give…breathe. Divorced Dad gives a speech.

When you have given and have no more to give, will you know where to go to replenish the energy you need to keep going?

It has been a while since I posted. Between the end of a semester at work, trying to bring closure to an agreement that my ex had been dragging her feet on to avoid court, my daughter struggling with the impending death of our dog and her mother’s cancer battle, my son’s academic struggles, and my other son’s college application process, Divorced Dad 101 had to take a back seat.

This morning much of this came to a head. I couldn’t decide whether the pain in my chest was a heart attack, remnants of a failed massage last night, or just the stress of being a divorced dad had finally caught up to me in physical form. Breathing was hard.

And tonight I recalled some of my own advice that I had given out to an audience a few years back. I have decided to share it here. A few years back the graduating class at my school invited me to give one of the faculty speeches at their graduation. Copied below is what I said:

Graduates… I’m worried. I’m worried that we, your teachers, have failed you.

Common Principle #1 of the Coalition of Essential Schools states:

school should focus on helping young people learn to use their minds well.”

The fact that you are up here on this dais suggests that we did ok with principle #1. BUT as we send you off into the world, I am concerned that we might not have helped you learn to use the rest of your bodies equally as well.

Have you learned to use your ears well?

When your future partner turns to you as says, “we need to talk.” Will you know how to listen? When you are 46 and the teenager that roams the halls of your home emphatically says to you, “Mom, Dad, Leave…me…alone!” Will you hear that what they are really trying to tell you is “let me try and figure things out on my own, but do not go too far away, just…in…case I need you.”

Have you learned to use your feet well?

When faced with a choice of path to take, will you know how to decide which way to step? Will you know how to walk that path with COURAGE and INTEGRITY? Will your feet know when to keep walking and when it is time to stop?

Have you learned to use your heart well?

Your science teachers might not have taught you this, but in reality your ears, feet and heart are all one anatomical system. When your feet repeatedly bring you to face a difficult decision, will you know how to listen to your heart before stepping to the left or to the right?

AND

Have you learned to use your chi well?

There are many different types of chis, but if you are not sure where to look, let me show you.

I would like everyone to close their eyes

[I led the audience through a breathing exercise. I taught them how to breathe from their chi. Filling it with energy as they breathed in through their noses, and letting the energy out with their breath out.]

Open your eyes….

When you have given and have no more to give, will you know where to go to replenish the energy you need to keep going?

Of course… some in today’s national educational discourse might argue that teaching students how to use anything other than their minds is beyond the scope of public schooling.

But at our school we do things a little bit differently …just in case you haven’t noticed I have tried to teach you one final lesson today. AND teaching…here…is really nothing more than asking a few essential questions and then letting the students do all of the hard work.

So graduates…here is my final essential question to you, “What does learning to use the whole of your self…mean?”

 I leave you to do the hard work.

 And as you do…don’t forget to breathe along the way.

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