Saturday, December 29, 2012

Learned it all in Kindergarten

Today is a flashback. The next few wordy posts may be flashback articles I wrote for courses in college. I love reading back on my papers from my interesting introspective honors courses. I'm impressed with my insight then and how much I am the person now that I so wanted to be then. Progress is an absolutely amazing and wonderful thing, but it is also difficult as it usually takes lots of dedication, persistence, and diligence. 

Today's flashback is from my senior year of HS. I graduated Salutatorian of my class and had to give a speech, this is what I wrote:

Before I begin my speech I ask the graduating class to hold the hand of the person next to them, if you are at the end of a row reach back and hold the hand of the person behind you.  Create a big circle in a sense, you did it in kindergarten to stick together, let’s do it one more time.

                Its funny how out of the many lessons we have learned in the past thirteen years of school it is the simplest of life’s lessons introduced in kindergarten that are the ones that will stick with us for the rest of life. They will find ways to apply to everything we do.  In Robert Fulghum’s book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten he states:  "All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten.”  His words enable us to understand how strange it is that the simplest things are the most important.
                Playing fair.  We all remember the golden rule.  Do unto others as you would have done unto yourself.  It was hard to learn the golden rule in kindergarten.  I had a little brother who had already helped me to learn it but walking into a room with 21 people I had never met before meant learning the golden rule to its fullest.  Sharing crayons, markers, pencils, scissors, and books with that many people was harder than I’d imagined!  Be fair to others, they’ll be fair to you in return.  Sharing my scissors with DW when we happened to be at the same table meant that he would share them with me later on; a valuable lesson, a valuable friend.  Being fair now is the same as it was in kindergarten and it still helps one to gain priceless friendships. 
                Put things back where you found them.  Not putting the teacher’s pencil back in kindergarten had a minor negative result, but as we grew older and misplaced more important things, perhaps the car keys?  We learned after being late to school or missing an important meeting or sports practice that we should pay much more attention to things no matter how small they seem to be.  Details are important.  In foreign policy and government putting things back where they were found is important as well.  Just imagine what the world could be like if governments put things back where they found them and cleaned up their own mess!
                Saying sorry.  Remember getting in a small fight with a friend in kindergarten and then the teacher would force you to say sorry to one another?  I do.  HB and I met when one of us wouldn’t properly share the school supplies at our table.  After a little dispute Mrs. A came over and made us apologize to one another.  It seemed so hard then, but I can’t remember how many friendships I probably saved by simply saying sorry when I made a mistake.  Sorry is the simplest of words and can make such a big difference in so many circumstances.  Two little words, “I’m sorry”, can calm anger, mend broken pride, and strengthen relationships.  Don’t be afraid to say sorry.
                Flush.  Well there’s a pretty self-explanatory term.  Flush.  If you don’t, its gonna look yucky and smell yucky.  Eww.  But I’ve learned in the past eighteen years that there is more to flush than just a toilet.  Emotions need flushed out on occasion.  Worries need to be flushed especially.  Don’t let the little things get you down; don’t sweat the small stuff!  Sweating the small, petty issues will only lead to more stress on top of all the pressures you may already be dealing with.
                Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.  More or less, DON’T WORK YOURSELF TO DEATH!  I know we certainly didn’t work ourselves to death in kindergarten!  We’d do a little bit of work and then immediately do something fun as a sort of reward.  Learn some letters, color a picture; read a book, go outside to recess.  Find time in life to enjoy the little things.  Go on a walk, play a game, roll down a grassy hill, visit an old friend, anything!  Have a little bit of fun every now and then, its good for you.
                Take a nap every afternoon.  In kindergarten I can remember rushing to the steps where the napping mats were kept and then rushing to find a place to be beside CH.  We would then lie down and “nap” when in truth we were whispering about some sort of kindergarten nonsense.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could curl up with our favorite blanket every afternoon for an hour like in kindergarten?  Unfortunately growing up includes many more responsibilities that lead to a busier and more hectic schedule.  But seriously, get some rest when you need it; research has proven that it’s good for you!  All-nighters with friends can be fun but you aren’t the Energizer Bunny, you can’t keep going and going and going and much as you may think you can.
                When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.  I can remember holding the hands of my classmates as we walked to the playground when the weather was kind enough to allow us.  We held hands to stick together alongside the road and to make it easier for Mrs. Arbogast to make certain no one wandered away.  We’re all big enough to let go and cross the street on our own now, but we still need to keep alert for obstacles at all times.  Whether it’s someone out to get you or a greater power altogether.  Stick with people you trust.  They’ll watch your back and you can watch theirs.  There is nothing more wonderful than a close friend. 
                Be aware of wonder.  Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.  We all sank our roots here in Elkins.  They grew and lengthened as they were nurtured by our teachers and other mentors until our plant grew up out of the ground and unfolded its leaves and a beautifully unique flower.  That flower is the person we have become.  Now our flowers are about to spread pollen to many different places in many different ways.
                And finally, remember those Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.  Robert Fulghum has reminded us to remember the simple lessons of kindergarten as we continue through life.  So, keep an open mind as you continue.  Be open and willing to try new things – no matter how strange or scary they may seem.  You never know where they may take you.  Life is a great big adventure waiting to be had.  Have it.