Everyday we tell ourselves things: words to live by, bits of wisdom we’ve heard before, the things our parents told us—still tell us today.  We tell ourselves what we need to hear to persevere, to lead, to succeed, and to sometime just simply be okay.  Bits of wisdom circle our heads like bat moths gathering around a ceiling fan.  We pluck a wing and remind ourselves of a truth we already know.  We tell other people things too: like breathe, or this is supposed to happen, or we make each other laugh, which is another kind of wisdom.
Last week I got to thinking about these things.  As the orientation drew to a close for the spring 2011 semester (the 25th group of students who have embarked on this wild journey), I was thinking about what words I wanted to share with them to inspire them to preserver, to lead, to succeed and to just simply be okay, in the months to come.  And I realized the words they needed were not my own, or at least not only my own.  So, I embarked on another wild journey: I attempted to collect one single piece of advice for the S11 semester, from each member of the Cape Eleuthera Foundation.  I emailed or called or visited every person who works for this place: Island School, Cape Eleuthera Institute, Deep Creek Middle School, Facilities. Everyone.  And though I did not actually succeed in reaching every single member, I got pretty darn close (all but 4, I think).  What came to be born of my humble little project was a collection of words as varied and unique as well are, collectively.  So, I am honored to bring to you, what I brought to the graduation from orientation ceremony for our students: a comprehensive documentation of the collective wisdom of the Cape Eleuthera Foundation.

“Ask yourself: Why am I here?” – Vanessa. “Our life walking is slow. You come to school to learn and take time to learn.  Sometimes it’s hard to learn.  Sometimes I work so hard I want to cry.  Bugs bite me! It’s so hot! I be sweating.  My hands so dirty! It’s life. I have to work. Still happy” – Joseph. “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what a ship is for” – Gabe. “Listen openly and trust your instincts” – Ellie.  Experience as much as you can here. Look for adventures that will stay with you longer than a candy bar or a soda” – Dave Burnham.  “Life does not put things in front of you that you cannot handle” – Hannah.  “Paint watercolors” – Katie. “Don’t eat yellow snow” – Matt Dawson. “Trust that the people you meet here are good people, people that care about you and want you to grow and succeed. Be kind to them” – Rachel. “Be safe and have fun”– Brady. “Make each step count, especially the small ones” – Odette. “Be proactive” – Geoff. “Everything happens for a reason” – Taylor. “Learn from those who you would not think to learn from. Listen to those who are not often listened to” – Avery. “Hard is good” –Chris Maxey. “Say what you want, say what you mean, question yourself are you really what you seem” – Jason. “Be sure to drink your ovaltine” (A Christmas Story)  – Skylar. “Sometimes doing your best is not good enough.  Sometimes you must do what is required” – Josh. “Go play outside” Corey. “To know where one’s towel is” – Caleb.  “If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to it” –Al. “Be grateful and recognize the people that make your life as good as it is. Basically: say thank you” – Sam. “Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Katelyn. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” – Tyler. “No matter how bad things get, always remember: you are in The Bahamas. You could be sitting in a cubicle being asked to work overtime on a Saturday” – Ian. “Teach us delight in simple things and mirth that has no bitter springs” – Matthew.  “Don’t worry about the small things” both Jake and Duriko. “Beautiful people do not just happen” – Emma. “Write things down” – Marie. “Wear sunscreen” – Dani Owen. “Ubuntu: I am what I am because of who we all are” – Cristal. “We shall not cease from exploration/ And the end of all our exploring/ Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time” (T. S. Eliot) – Ashlie Thompson. “Happiness is not a matter of events, it depends upon the tides of the mind” – Liane. “Most everything I learned, I learned by doing it wrong the first time” – Ron. “Tell ‘em to learn where things go in the kitchen, and put them away right” – Becca. “Keep doing well” – Tavala. “If people don’t occasionally walk away from you shaking their heads, you’re doing something wrong” – Aaron.  “If you want to be successful, increase your failure rate” – Hal. “Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them.  And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer” – Jennifer Stone. “You will not be judged by what you believe, but rather what you do” – Patrick. “Lánzate, cada instante es único, no se repetirá – Throw yourself, every instant is unique, it will not repeat itself” – Alexis. “If you run with wolves, you will learn how to howl, but if you associate with eagles, you will learn how to soar to great heights” – Claudette. “Be present” – Kate. “Its not about how you compare to others that counts, its how you compare to who you were yesterday. If its one step better, that’s all that matters” – Karen. “Honor your word. Safeguard your reputation” – Elyssa. “A merry heart doth good like a medicine” – Bernadette. “I live life but sometimes life be hard.  Make sure my kids get an education. I work hard and my kids get something to do” – Noel. “Be well” – Remo. “Do not let success be a destination, but a journey” – Spencer. “The ultimate goal of the ego is not to see something, but to be something” – Kenysha. “Don’t walk into the kitchen without saying ‘hello’ or ‘good morning’ or whatever… but I don’t think they’re gonna listen” – Mooch. “Just live, without the stress, without the noise, just live humble and tranquility” – Chris Kemp. “Spend as much time looking and remembering as you do taking pictures” – Joanna. “Take pictures” – Melissa. “Expect to face a challenge in these 100 days that you cannot overcome using the same tools and thinking that has worked for you in the past. Welcome frustration and confusion. Those are what you feel right before learning happens. And in the process you will discover more fully who you are and how you want to be in the world” – Christian. “Keep an open mind” – Dani Gibson. “Whenever opportunity presents itself, take it all for what’s being offered and don’t be afraid to ask for a little more” – Jesse. “Love what you do” – Ash Mckinney. “Trust others and believe in yourself” – Justin. “You will continually be knocked off your rocker- be ready!” – Jenny Panlilio. “The days are long but the weeks are fast—don’t miss a moment and remember there is always time to do everything if you don’t wait” – Mary. “Fake it ‘til you make it” – Tiffany Gubala. “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for mankind” – Peter. “A word from the wise is efficient,” – Mally. “Ask questions. Whenever you need anything, whatever assistance in the kitchen, ask.  Come in and lend a helping hand. If you wanna know how to cook something, I’d be happy to teach you” – Tiff. “Measure the days you have left. Do just that labour/which marries your heart to your right hand: simplify/your life to one emblem, a sail leaving harbour/and a sail coming in…” David. “A little silence is comfort” – Cap. “Always look behind you when you’re snorkeling or diving because that’s when you see the best stuff” – Nell. “Go outside” – Lissa. “Silly is a state of grace” – Kristin. “Do it today” – Jonny.  “Take advantage of exploration time” – Rob. “Be humbled and let your heart fill with gratitude. Let your heart fill. Feel it fill. Sit quiet for a moment and feel your heart welling up so big and full that you could fill oceans with fresh tides of thank you” – Ashley. “As you journey through these next three months always remember that respect is the key to success.  Respect for yourself, for each other and for the environment that we all share.  If you are able to be respectful of each of these pieces every day the entire community will be stronger because of it” – Pam.