Be Like Winston
This is a short note I sent home to my middle school students this Friday. I've adopted the routine of posting an assignment for them on Monday and a friendly "thinking about you" note on Fridays. The quarantine is no fun, but we can all take a lesson from Winston and live in a manner that we can look back on proudly. I wish the kids courage in the following, and I wish the same for each of you
I hope you're all well and that things in your home are smooth (if not a touch boring). Given that it's Friday, I thought I'd take a moment and ask you to look ahead in your lives twenty to thirty years. I know that's tough at this point in life, but give it a try. Looking ahead, think about the stories you're going to be able to tell your kids and (gasp) grandkids in a few decades. You're living through a global pandemic unlike anything seen in over a century. Your kids ARE going to want to hear about it, and I want you to be able to tell them you faced it with courage and integrity.
Winston Churchill was a famous Prime Minister in Great Britain during World War II. Before that he'd been a soldier in a number of battles (including some in World War I). He has a quote: "Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result." He meant that feeling great danger every once in a while is not a bad thing. It reminds us now precious life truly is, and how exciting it is to survive a bad time. Some of my colleagues gave me that quote in a frame after a dangerous incident during my last career, and I've always believed it to be an accurate statement. I still have the framed quote hanging in my office.
Many of my best stories involve a bit of danger, a broken bone, a scar. We carry those stories with us forever, and the trick is to not let the experiences weaken your spirit. There will be some people who will weaken and live life afraid after we come out of this pandemic. Don't be one of those. I know it's a weird, scary time, but I also know each of you has it in your to survive and thrive. That is my wish for you this Friday and for the rest of your life.
Do something nice for your parents, siblings, and pets this weekend. Do something nice for yourself, as well. I think about you often. Courage.