The school is one of, if not the most expensive in the whole St. Louis region. It covers seventh through twelfth grade. One might expect John Burroughs to be populated with privileged, self centered kids. I found them to be engaging, polite and caring about subjects outside of themselves. The school fosters many clubs and activities covering social issues. It’s clear that much of the learning is outside of the standard classroom setting. Their ALS club has produced at least one promising young researcher.
At the end of a conversation with an organizer for one of their help projects I offered to speak to the kids at school if that would be a help. She jumped at it. I thought that I was going to be talking to the club. Upon arriving, I found that I was addressing the whole school in their assembly hall.
I was happy to do it but I didn’t think that it was going to be any big deal. It is hard for Mary and I to get going that early in the day.
It went well, they were interested, had good questions and it went longer than I expected. I was truly amazed by how nourishing this endeavor was for me. I doubt that there was anyone who got more from the engagement than I did.
Along with talking about ALS, a few of the points were:
Occasionally we have to change our goals. It will happen to all of us. Any readjustment in your life is hard, but once you do adjust, you will be surprised to find that the new challenge is also interesting.
We tend to define ourselves by our accomplishments and our abilities. While developing your ability is a good and worthy endeavor, things beyond your control can set you back, change your direction. That’s not always a bad thing. Developing many different interests in your life gives you more to sustain you, more to draw on when you hit a bump in the road.
The first time I had to let a longtime friend of mine push me in a wheelchair was extremely difficult, almost unbearable. Try not to let embarrassment get in the way. If you do, you box yourself in.
Very moving piece and words to live by for all of us. Thank you for making the effort to speak to those students. I am sure you, your words, as well as life experience will stay with them. I look forward to your big posts and this is one of the best.
David, I’m so glad you spoke to those students and that it was “nourishing” for you. I’m confident that what you shared with them not only about ALS but also your hard-earned life lessons will have a strong impact on them.
Around 11 JB 8th graders and a few moms came to our house last year and did some leaf work. It was wonderful, as we are knee deep in leaves around here in the fall and winter. They asked me if I needed help two years in a row, but only the second year was I ready to accept help. That was a wonderful gift! Plus the treats and pretty crafts made my day. That was great you were able to give back.