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– From PA School –

1991 Matric Class 30 Year Reunion Speech By Vanessa (Tomlins) McKay

Aug 25, 2021Uncategorised

These insightful words were penned by Vanessa for the 138th Founders Day Assembly on 13 August 2021. Due to the Corona Virus pandemic, fewer than 50 people were in the audience and a request was made to share Vanessa’s speech as the philosophy contained resonated with one and all.

 “I really don’t know how to fit 30 years of so-called adult life into 3 minutes.

What I do know is the question – What do I want to be in 5 years, 10 years or even for the rest of my life – is difficult, and most kids have no idea and that’s ok because even if you do have a plan, nothing actually prepares us for what happens along the way.

Life should not just be about WHAT we want to be but WHO we want to be.

Our whole life we are collecting knowledge – we don’t want to appear stupid – but knowledge changes. And as our testing facilities improve, we can see what we have never seen before and we know so many more things. Our constant companion therefore, is change and in the end it is not the knowledge that counts but what we do with the knowledge, together with life – which we call wisdom – that defines us.

What you do may not be about the career that you choose but rather about how you lived your life. And I believe the most important achievement in life, is happiness. It sounds pretty simple – just to be happy – but the seekers of a happy life, are not so simple. We are complex and confusing beings. I believe if you can find the traits within yourself, of courage and forgiveness, you have a better chance than most, of achieving this.

There are many crossroads in our lives where we decide which path to take and any step forward is better than none.

So many people blame the past for what they have or don’t have – there is nobody without a past: too much money, no money; too much love, no love; to much education, too little education… you can be a wonderful beach bum with the best education or a successful businessman with little education because there comes a time in our lives, when we are so called adults and we make a decision to do what we would like to do.

Our mind is our strongest tool – everything we think and say, affects us. It is the mind that makes us rich or poor, happy or sad, healthy or not so healthy and from the moment we are born we are making decisions. We are deciding whether we like or love something or we don’t and to be courageous is also a decision we make. It takes courage to step forward with unknowns, courage to be resilient, courage to learn, unlearn & relearn, courage to sometimes just do what is right, courage to be ourselves unapologetically and most importantly courage to love.

So if you have the courage to change, you can go to higher heights.

Hand in hand with courage is forgiveness – it is the miracle medicine of life. Forgiveness releases the past it makes it undone and as all things start with ourselves, we start by forgiving ourselves… for what we have done, have not done, said or not said. Then we forgive the situation and everyone in it. Most situations have more than one side – it depends from which side you see it.

Finally I believe this quote by John Lennon sums up what should be our motivation for any major decision we make in life: “When I was 5yrs old, my mother always told me the key to life was happiness. When I went to school they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up – I wrote down “happy”. They said that I didn’t understand the assignment. I said that they didn’t understand life.”

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