“Like accolades ought to be, the fulfilled life is a consequence, a gratifying byproduct. It’s what happens when you’re thinking about more important things. Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world.” -David McCullough Jr., Wellesley High School, 2012
I have a secret. Every year, I was so scared for the first day of school. I was scared because of the text books.
I will tell you why, but I have to write this down very quickly. I really need to go to sleep.
Forget the first day of school. Second day was my preferred day. But every year I would march into the classroom scared to death because I felt that I missed a lot which was ridiculous because all students did during first day of school was to introduce each other, say their names out loud and clean their respective homerooms afterwards.
Still I was a no show during those “say your name out loud” days. For four years.
The reason was the text books. I liked books, I still do of course! I loved to smell the new plastic cover in my text books were it not for the fact that I did not have one. Every year, I needed to buy my text books one at a time, all for my 9 or 10 subjects, and it almost usually would take months for me to complete it. I never had a complete set. Now in high school text books are important, believe me, apart from the manuals. Text books are each subject’s bibles, the guiding maps; a student will be lost without them.
Without the books, I felt lost, and embarrassed and scared, big time. I experienced those feelings for four years, in high school (not to mention grade school, but that’s a different story). Today I lost that feeling, without the need for text books, what I feared in college were the times I wrote crappy leads for my articles and at present, at work, whenever I missed a data on a report about archived news programs on our system (not that it frequently happens, I swear).
Automatically as I begin to write this exceptionally bad speech, the text books came into my mind. Four years of high school, four years of being scared and embarrassed.
I used to save every last drop of my meager (apologies to my parents) allowance so I could buy two books in a month (with my savings and the money given to me monthly for a book, I could buy two). With that I learned how to save money. But more than that I felt during those times a sense of fulfillment every time I wrap my new text book in a plastic cover, a sense of somehow in the activity page at the end of each chapter, I answered a hidden question no one else but me could see. I had the answer and it was great.
The experience of saving for my text books helped me endure school and enjoy it at the same time, and that is why I think, ten years after, I am still enduring life and enjoying it at the same time.
When I was aiming to complete those text books I was not thinking about how I could finally answer the activity pages without the need of borrowing from my seat mate so I could write the questions down. I was thinking of answering the questions right, of making good grades out of it, of after each year, completing the requirements of each subject so I could climb a year higher, and a year higher, and finish high school so I could go to college. As McCullough said, I was climbing the mountain so I could enjoy the view.
I had never delivered a graduation speech in my life. In grade school, I watched under the rain as it was delivered to us (the venue had no roof believe me) and in high school I had no luck either (though I was sitting on the stage, beneath a roof thankfully). I could not recall those speeches though I could read them in my yearbooks. But I could vividly remember the speech made by our class valedictorian in college. (I was laughing that time, sorry brother). Most of his speech, and I hope I am right, centered on thanking his mother, and I thought that time, that was the speech I would certainly write, and I silently thanked the class valedictorian for dedicating that speech to his mother and to my mother too.
So there you go, sorry for the horrible sentences and grammar and for breaking several writing rules nobody cares about especially at this time. But my mind is floating right now, as Ender Wiggin said “So many things to do, so very little sleep.” Seriously. Hashtag excuses.
This day, ten years ago, I graduated high school, I am hastily writing this speech because I want to thank my mother, and my father. I want to thank them for painstakingly giving me, every month, the money needed to buy my text books. I know they know how important the books were to me and how embarrassed I was on not having a book on a certain subject. I want thank them for waking up very early every morning, like most parents, to prepare us to school. I want to thank them for being so proud of me; I want to thank them on the moments they bragged about me to their friends: our son, an honor student! Despite having incomplete text books! Guest what, mama, papa? We did not complete my text books, but it did not matter then and it does not matter now. I climbed the mountain, and I am enjoying the view!
And I will sleep now.