There is a lot of talk at Holderness about mentors—and for good reason. There are plenty of people here who would and do make great mentors. The list is long, and it includes folks from every area of our lives here—the faculty, the staff, and your coaches. These are people Holderness has said to you—they have something to offer to you. Maybe it’s their industry, maybe it’s their sense of humor, maybe it’s their intelligence, maybe it’s their different point-of-view, or maybe it’s their compassion and basic decency. Whatever the case may be, there are mentors aplenty here for you.
Many of you are also aware that other students are wonderful mentors too. There are tons to choose from. I’m always impressed to see students who are not in high-profile leadership positions who act as terrific mentors. That quiet and unassuming person who day by day does his or her work with a cheerful smile and an attitude of “I can make a positive difference” are also super mentors.
Today I would like to identify perhaps an underemphasized group of mentors—the little people here at Holderness—and in so doing build my message into a way of living.
I like to spend time with the little people here—in fact, as much time as I can. And, there are a ton to be with. We have had a baby boom on this campus—and it makes me smile. If there is one job program job I would want here, it would be Kiddie Crew.
Why seek out Parker Sheppe or Josh Arsenault or Hazel Eccleston or Hannah Casey.
What is it that makes these folks mentors??
I see three things worth drawing your attention to:
I love and respect their unawareness of self. They don’t care how they look, how loud they are, how they Announce themselves—they are right out there—always. Have you ever watched how Tilly Kampman can stand in the middle of Weld and twirl? I love that utter lack of self-consciousness. She’s not thinking, “Is this the right way to act. Will people judge me differently if I do this?” It is such an admirable quality we should emulate more of the time.
The wonder they approach the world with is inspiring. Have you ever watched how fascinated Josh Arsenault looks when he takes his silverware into the pantry and approaches the washing machine? Imagine his mind in those moments. He is in awe—and that’s a wonderful trait to have on display. Who wouldn’t want to be in awe more often?
Their overt show of love is delicious. Have you ever watched little ones run to their moms and dads and give them hugs? I’ve seen them run to other adults like Ms. Lin. I heard them growl at Mr. Houseman or high five with Mr. Ford. It’s wonderful. It’s as it should be in life. It says in no uncertain terms, “I am deeply connected to you, I know you love me as much as I love you, and I want the whole world to see.”
I saw this on HD display when many of us witnessed KC’s climb to 1,000 points on the basketball court recently. There was child-like anticipation with every shot as she got closer. There were shouts of joy and exuberance when she hit the mark. There was a dad jumping to the ceiling wearing his Proud Dad T-Shirt. There was a free and uninhibited flow of emotion—including some people just bawling openly saying, “That was so awesome.” It was a true moment—grounded in all the things that brought out the child in us.
In his later years, Pablo Picasso, perhaps the most important painter of the last 200 years, said, when interviewed towards the end of his life: “It took me 20 years to paint as well as my idol Raphael, but I have spent a lifetime trying to paint like a child.”
What a curious, if not inscrutable, comment. It speaks, I think, to the idea that children are not fenced by boundaries and borders the way adults are. It seems, the older we get, the more closed up we become. We build preferences and prejudices over time. We worry about what others might think. We bottle up and cork our displays from the world. From the standpoint of art, this is clear to see in the following way. As we grow older, we are often taught to color between the lines. In fact, the older we get the more we are encouraged (by some) to never stray outside the lines. Little kids, on the other hand, have not figured this out. For the longest time, I had a piece of Cam Cirone’s (former faculty child) art hanging in my classroom. It was a mess of colors and lines. There is no discernable picture or pattern here—just Cam art.
Here’s one last quote from the Gospel of Matthew:
2Jesus called a little child to him and placed the child among them. 3And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
So, don’t forget the little people. They can be mentors too. In fact, maybe they can be our best mentors. Additionally, work at keeping the child alive in your heart. Even if you have stopped announcing yourself, even if you now care about how you look, even if you are no longer romanced by the bulldozers and big machines of the world, keep that child alive in your heart—no matter where you go and what you do.