The young and the old

My school in South Africa has a gray stone war memorial that is full of engraved names of the old boys who died in the First and Second World War. 

The war memorial guards a grassy quad where the school gathers every year for the November 11th Memorial Service.  

At the end of the service, the headmaster reads the famous and sad verse from Laurence Binyon’s The Fallen:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.

Everyone then repeats the final line: We will remember them.

Then there is silence. Nobody speaks, nobody moves. It’s an eerie feeling and a stark contrast to the energy and noise of a busy all boys school. Then deep down from within the hallways one of the senior pupils plays the last post and reveille. The long corridors and empty classrooms with wooden desks make it seem like the music is coming from the walls and rafters.

There’s something about a quad full of young boys speaking in unison and recognizing their fellow students from another era that hits home. I think it’s a reminder that so many young men, just like the boys standing in the quad, answered the call and left the safety of countries like South Africa, the United States, Australia, Zimbabwe, New Zealand, and Canada to fight and die in a war thousands of miles away. The ceremony moves old veterans who are present and young boys who have no idea what is to come. 

Curiosity won’t kill you, it’ll make you smarter

“Be curious. Read widely. Try new things. I think a lot of what people call intelligence boils down to curiosity.” – Aaron Swartz

Today was a good reminder to me that I’m only as smart as the people I talk to. Part of a daily ritual means making time to meet new people and explore new places.

Don’t rewatch the same film, branch out, explore new genres, new directors, etc.

Break out of the bubble and learn new things.

The practice of dying

If today was your last day to live what would your honesty and kindness settings be?

I’ve read that when people know they’re going to die, they dial up the honesty and kindness settings. What have they got to lose? It’s now or never.

Start the practice of dying now. Be honest and be kind now. Turn it up.

Take control of that first moment

Wake up each morning, say thank you and smile. Take a deep breath, wiggle your toes, connect with your body and be grateful that you have a brand new day that’s full of possibilities and fresh starts.

Do it before you reach for your phone or start the daily family routines of exercise, breakfast, work, and survival. Twitter, WhatsApp, and Email aren’t going anywhere and what are you going to do about it first thing in the morning g anyway? Chill.

Take control of that first moment and start the new day on your terms.