Our first assignment in leadership communications: Talk for two minutes about an event or a person who had a strong impact on you.
The morning could have turned into 40 minutes of aimless rambling. Instead we discovered stories that embodied the most stirring of human experiences.
They were these:
One told us of his best friend whose mantra was "take life one day at a time", and who was killed suddenly in a car crash...instead of going home at the end of the summer to family, he cut his internship short to bury his friend.
Another told us of how as a child, he was injured and doctors warned him he might be blind for the rest of his life.Hhe was lucky to recover full sight.
Yet another described how she totaled her car just a week ago on her way to Virginia, only to have a Fuqua classmate drive two hours to pick her up and make her realize that what we gain from our coursework at Fuqua is nothing next to the friendships we earn.
And then one spoke about the boss who inspired her to be everything he was not.
One about the mother who inspired him after living through sectarian violence in India.
Another about the courage gained from pulling a plane out of an uncontrollable spin.
When the speeches were done, what lingered was this:
Here at business school, we are constantly battered with advice to focus on the future - to set ourselves up for getting a great internship, to study hard so we can get the grades that the most competitive jobs require, to manage our time, to involve ourselves deeply, and plan plan plan plan plan...
While it's impossible to live every day like it's your last, said one classmate, you can wake up grateful. You can remember to sit in the day you are living, appreciate your eyesight and your beating heart, and the opportunity of where you are.
This afternoon, as I skimmed Time Magazine's movie review of Never Let Me Go, the last paragraph arrested me:
"Here's the way life is: whether we live to be 30 or 90, we all have a death sentence hanging over us. As Garfield says, 'What's important in our lives is that we make the best of this, that we immerse fully in love.'" Never Let Me Go is a plea to live and love well, so that long before our time is up, we will truly have reached completion. That way, we can live forever."
I don't believe in reaching 'completion,' but I hear in these words the same longing and determination that my classmates expressed this morning.
Finally, this little lady popped up in my Facebook feed, a video shared by yet another classmate:
Thus, today has left me unwanting of sleep. It's cheesy, but today has been like some fable of Aesop. Rather than verbally trampling all over the moral of "live life to its fullest," I shall stop. I can add nothing tonight to what is being lived.