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One Last Lesson

Today is the last day of school.

I almost want to let that be the whole post...just let the statement stand on its own. A declaration of survival. Of resilience. Of significance. And that's not just true of the students.

But as a teacher, I often want my last day to feel...

...epic. And it often just doesn't. It feels more like the closing seconds of a sporting event when the winning team has the game well in hand, we're all just watching the clock wind down and some of the fans are already heading towards the exits. And sometimes that's enough. A win's a win, right?

But this year I find myself aching to give them the epic buzzer-beater kind of climax. That definitive moment that adds luster to all of the other defining moments that led to now.

That helps them to walk out of the classroom one last time with a clear invitation into something still larger and grander lying just ahead.

But epic is hard to manufacture with teenagers and it's plagued with difficulty and uncertainty, largely because it's often composed of elements that are, individually, so commonplace. So obvious. Things that, when you hear them, elicit little more than a head-nod of agreement.

Things that, just a few days ago, I was being reminded of for myself.

Things like this:

* Remember to continue to be a student -- to not solely focus on the accumulation of knowledge in order to get out or move on, but to instead submit to the processes and wisdom and authority of others who have already walked where you hope to tread.

* Remember there's always more that you don't know than you do know -- and that will always be the case.

* Remember to experience what you're learning -- because knowledge without an experiential application is just trivia...and that's what Google's for.

* Remember to embrace the process of being mentored -- because expertise is, to a large extent, an illusion. Not because you don't know anything after years of study and experience, but because you've now become aware of just how much there still is to know.

* Remember to forge relationships -- which are the true vehicle for all learning...and love (including self-love)...and transformation. And then fight to maintain them.

* Remember that you live in a larger world and in a larger story, one that began long before you were born and will continue long after you leave…but one in which you have an irreplaceable role. Discover that role and play it as best you can.

* Remember that the goal is not arrival -- it's continued "becoming." A 200-year old tree has not "arrived." It's still digging deeper, growing taller, spreading wider, adding to itself and offering that increase to the world around it. "Becoming" means the journey continues.

"Arrival" means the journey is over.

I know these nuggets were powerful for me as I was reminded of them this week.

I know that, sometimes, what we're learning is personal -- just for me in just this moment.

But something in me wants to throw up a shot at the buzzer and see if what stirred in me can be stirred in them.

Here goes...




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