A year ago, I wrote "Losing Dumbledore," in tribute to David Marocco, the principal of the school I attended from 4th grade through senior year. Here, I want to write down some of the things I learned in those years.
The claw part of an ordinary hammer is one of the most effective tools for pulling weeds. Attack the center part of the weed with the fork of the hammer and then use the leverage of the curve to pull it back up. I learned that when we would clear the field for flag football season.
My (outside) attitude is under my control. Some days are terrible on the inside. However, we weren't allowed to mistreat each other just because we were having a rough day. There was no excuse for being awful. There are countless hard days I've gotten through without getting fired simply because I learned how to control my face and attitude in an ordinary situation.
How to write a paper. Mr. Marocco's wife taught us to write in MLA and APA format from sixth grade onward and how to write an argumentative essay starting in tenth grade. In college, that meant that I already knew the basics of what was expected, how to execute those basics and (critically) how long it would take.
There's no such thing as a truly private life. Even if I think I can do something in secret, as a Christian, I believe that literal God can literally see me. It's not about control, it's about remembering there is no word or deed for which I will not make account. The Creed for the school was a daily reminder that the people around me are also watching, and assessing the people I love based on who I am: "everything that I do and say reflects not only on me, but on my family, my school, and most importantly, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." On a side note, that sentence taught me more about how to honor my parents than every book I've read on the subject.
Tuck it in to win. Also, wear a belt.
Everyone has to contribute to making a plan work. The annual fundraisers were dependent on students volunteering. I learned how to sell products as a ten year old, selling Christmas trees during math class.
Play anyway. You may not be the best. You may never become the best. But if you like it, play anyway (I wrote more about this one here).
The Littles are watching you. Because it was an elementary through high school, we got to watch kids grow up. We also got to feel what it's like to become a Big Kid, in a really BIG sense. It's one thing to be the oldest kid in elementary. It's another thing to be the biggest kid when the smallest kid is five, watching how to become an adult, or at least a little older. It's a responsibility I don't always carry perfectly. It's a responsibility I've known about since I was nine. Who you are is critical. How you act is how everyone else understands who you are.
There's always enough hope to see you through. Whatever's needed, whatever's coming, there's still hope left. There's still a chance. So many of the chances will work out, and so many of them that fail will lead to something that will work. Whether it's a career, or a friendship, or faith itself, it's worth it to hope anyway. Perhaps most of all, there's no one worth giving up on. You never know who will come home.