Friday, April 9, 2010

Unborrowed speech: Forever and a half by A. R. L.

The following is the valedictory address of my consultant's son.  I've seen him a couple of times, usually busy with what I thought was mainly school work,  and I have heard of how brilliant he is as a student.  I was shocked when I knew just recently that his right eye is blind ever since.

I got nostalgic when I read his speech.   Not that I ever gave a valedictory address myself (I wish),  but  this one made me remember my days in high school which were all spent with almost careless abandon.  Everything was just in the raw then, brimming with potential and awesome wonder of things and days to come.

When I read through this, I realized that this young man may be deprived of the complete gift of sight but a bright future awaits him.

Here is the speech he wrote himself, not borrowed from anybody else, and purely from the heart.

It's better late than never, so, to all graduates of 2010, congratulations to you all!!

All over the world, miracles are happening right now.  Let me humbly state one.  Speaking before you is this batch's valedictorian.  Unknown to many, my right eye has been blinded for most of my life.  It's hard to live with only one eye to depend on.  I lack balance.  Line of sight, depth perception, and visual strength.  Many times I was discouraged, humiliated, and wounded - literally speaking.  Nevertheless, God sent me angels without wings, people from different origins, with remarkable abilities and distinct weaknesses.  From then on, triumph in spite of deficiency proved to be difficult but not impossible.

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me now to speak not as the valedictorian but as the representative of this (pronoun mine) school, Batch 2010.  Receiving honors and seeing colors fly is only an icing to the cake we have all baked meaningfully and well.  After all the work we have done, we finally reach the summit where we crown our efforts and thank the people who gave us sparks of inspiration along the way.

Life is a matter of choice.  True.  But we never chose our parents and our parents never chose us.  Someone up there made the decision for us.  It wasn't by chance.  It was God's choice - His significant plan.  Dearest parents, with full sincerity, we thank you for your relentless love.  We apologized for the times we talked back; the times when we demanded too much, sightless to how hard you have been working for us; the times when we spent more time with gadgets than with you; the times we lied because we could not openly and directly explain what was going on.  However we deeply thank you for bearing with us despite all those I've mentioned and have failed to mention.  We thank you for all the emotional comfort, financial support, and spiritual guidance; for sending us to a wonderful school and for choosing to be with us on this glorious occasion.  We are all proud of you.

A great deal of our gratitude goes to our teachers who shared their expertise in various fields - Mathematics, the Sciences, Written and Spoken Arts, Music, Technology, History, and Culture.  For about a decade, we have been under different educators who all have different personalities, teaching styles, ideals, and influence.  Thank you for opening our eyes to the world and making our responsibilities in it.  For the times when you went beyond what was asked of the curriculum and what was written in the lesson plan; for the times when you shared your personal experiences,hoping we would not learn them the hard way - thank you.  These extra little things from your efforts which have accumulated through time are the things which shape the stroke of our destiny.  Always be proud of your work, that your craft is the educationof our nation's hope.

My fellow graduates, as your companion, I am witness to how beautifully you have grown as you developed your talents and skills.  Together, we learned, we bonded, and sometimes competed.  Within and without groupings, we have shared the load of school work, the story of our lives, and even our mischievous, childish folly.   Sometimes our principles clash and we find it hard to properly express ourselves.  We cannot deny that there had been arguments but because of those bitter moments we have learned how to handle ourselves and amidst criticisms and controversy, how to manage stress, how to resolved conflict, and how to tame our passions.  We laughed, we cried but we survived and filled our tears with life.

Disease, discomfort, defect, danger, defeat, despair - these are but some of the harsh realities humanity is always up against.  They are a part of life - inevitable, attached, and constant.  But let us flip the page and put on our eyes.  We'll realize that God sent them not to crush us, not to corrupt out character, not to jeopardize our relationships, not to prevent us from being the people we are called and sent to be.  If we ask courage from God, He does not give us courage.  Instead, God gives us a chance to be courageous.  God is sending trials as opportunities to exercise and to give muscle to our values and it's worth recognizing that most of our personal growth is attributed to these difficulties.  The next step is to level up and make the progress national - if not universal.

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."

There will be more mountains to climb and more than a hundred different paths to make.  For a very long time, we won;t be seeing each other.  Surely, we will miss a lot of things about this school, its gates, its high walls, pentagon, and classrooms which have hosted pools of immortal memories.  More than that, we will all miss the people we were used to seeing, talking, and laughing out loud with.  We might meet each other in college, we might hold frequent reunions, and we might, in the near future, do business with each other.  But basically it won't be as complete as it is now.  Yes, it would be difficult to unite everyone in the batch, but again, never impossible.  Thanks to advances in media and technology, there's always Facebook, complete with Farmville and Plants vs Zombies.  If you like, you can throw pillows too.  Just keep in touch.

Let not distance bother you, my friends.  It had always been God's plan and we had always been designed to disperse, do different missions, spread the good news, and pass on distinct legacies.  Don't cry because it's over.  Smile because it happened.

Life is random.  We never know what's coming after us.  The Santino craze and the Boys Over Flowers fever might have cooled down.  Fireflies, Tick Tock, and Speechless will soon leave the airwaves.  The limelight will eventually move away from Taylor Swift and the Jabbawockees.  Combi and G-tec will soon cease to be the favorite snack and pen, respectively.  Applause will die.  Medals will tarnish.  Certificates will rot.  Trophies will bend and break.  Power will vanish.  Wealth will fade.  Fame will be forgotten.  Things permanently change.  But what remains stable even after forever and a half, is God's love.  Always celebrate it.

Plot it in your head.  Sing it with your hand.  Let it flow from your heart. 

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