The village I live near has a population of less than 500. The school, which houses kindergarten to grade 12, has a combined population of around 200. In that context, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the high school graduation class numbers anywhere from 12 to 15 kids.
Yet It’s a big deal. The local weekly newspaper will provide multi-page coverage of the graduation exercises. There will be a cover story, centrefold pages with each graduate’s formal gown photo, congratulatory ads from everyone from the provincial premier (who also happens to be our MLA) to local businesses, and a recap of the speeches. The graduation exercises have always been held in September because by then all the provincial grades are in, the marks are tallied, and there is no doubt that each student on the stage has earned the required number of credits to graduate. Yes, it can be a drag for proud parents and others to stop harvest efforts to celebrate this milestone. Yes, the grad parties around here are over-the-top in terms of size, expense, and gifts received. Today’s grads receive gifts that used to be given at weddings. But I digress.
It was through newspaper coverage of this year’s graduation ceremony that I stumbled on the notion of a survival kit. The valedictorian had stolen the idea from her dance teacher, who had no doubt stolen it from someone else. Well, dear reader, the larceny continues . . . with my own twist on things.
Every survival kit should include these eight items:
? A picture of The Duck (my hometown, Andrew, is home to a statue of the world’s largest mallard): this item is a reminder of our roots. No matter how big or small, how metropolitan or backwoods, our home community shapes us and leaves it mark. Cherish that.
? A postage stamp: to be used to recapture the lost art of letter writing. Write to thank someone who has helped or inspired you.
? A packet of sugar: a reminder to look for the sweet in ourselves and others, and to look for the blessing, the gift, the silver lining?because it always exists.
? An eraser: through our mistakes comes the biggest learning. An eraser gives us permission to fearlessly ?go for it,? because there are always do-overs.
? A pencil. Or pen or crayon or brush or keyboard to identify and record our blessings.
? A Band-Aid: to be used to heal hurts, and as a metaphor for self-care.
? A rubber band: a reminder to be flexible to prevent breakage of one’s spirit, and to be resilient when things knock us flat and we need to start again.
? A toothpick: to be used to pinpoint the finest qualities in ourselves and others, but not to peck ourselves or others to death with criticism.
Snippets of wisdom are everywhere, from bumper stickers to emails to sacred texts. Our challenge individually and collectively is to consider the merits of re-examining old beliefs and adopting new ones that might serve us better. Sometimes we just need to be reminded, from I sit.