As Teacher of the Year, I was asked to speak at Senior Pinning, a ceremony for the graduating class to receive a pin from an influential person in their lives. Here’s my speech!
Thank you for the honor of speaking to you tonight! I’d like to take a moment to remind you to keep reading because books hold the all of the directions in this journey through life.
Some of the most important lessons are learned through the experiences of others in books. From “The Tortoise and the Hare,” we learn that slow and steady wins the race. From To Kill a Mockingbird, we learn not to be judgmental. And from Macbeth, we learn to take all advice with a grain of salt.
We carry these messages with us like tiny seeds of knowledge in the very corner of our brains, and we recall them when we’re faced with a challenge. We remember the tortoise plodding along the path when we’re struggling through a particularly difficult task. We remember Scout standing on Boo Radley’s front porch when we encounter new people from different circumstances. And yes, we even remember crazy Lady Macbeth when someone suggests something that will permanently corrupt our souls. We use these lessons to navigate each and every twist and turn along the road.
In The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, the old king tells the main character a story about a shopkeeper who sent his son to the wisest man in the world to discover the secret to happiness. The wise man allows the boy to explore his palace and hands him a spoon with two drops of oil in it to carry as he goes, cautioning him not to spill any of the oil. After some time, the boy returns with a full spoon to the wise man who asks him if he noticed the decor or the gardens. The boy admits he did not, so the wise man tells him to take the tour again. The boy picks up the spoon and sets out to see the palace once more, being sure to admire the Persian rugs and the beautiful flowers. When he returns this time, he tells the wise man all of the things he admired, but along the way, all of the oil spilled from the spoon. The wise man says, “The secret of happiness is to see all of the marvels of the world, and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon.”
So there’s another seed to add to your garden–remember to find a balance. Celebrate every victory, and be kind. Go travel the world, and call home often. Do great works, and don’t forget to read.