Saturday, 22 March 2008

Choosing significance

"We live when we are true to ourselves, authentic in our feelings, responsive to our convictions; we live when we love, when we are involved in the lives of others, when we are committed and concerned. We live when we build and create, hope, suffer and rejoice."

I found these inspiring words in one of Ms Cooke's speeches from the 1989 School Magazine. And it captures so beautifully some thoughts that have been echoing in my heart for some time now. Do I want a life of success or a life of significance?

The pioneers of BBGS were missionaries who left the comforts of home to travel all the way to Malaya so that neglected females could have an education. They chose significance.

Principals and teachers like Miss Cooke and Miss Yeap spent many years teaching, counselling, cajoling and inspiring thousands of girls, when they could have just focussed on bringing up their own families. They chose significance.

As I go about my busy life, am I making a conscious effort to choose significance over success? The BMW, Louis Vuitton and platinum cards are some indicators of success, but what measure do we have to demonstrate that we have achieved our fullest potential?

This question is especially relevant when we attend school reunions. We're all so excited to meet old friends and laugh over old memories. But do we sometimes wonder if that School Captain is now a successful CEO? Or if that school hockey player ended up representing Malaysia in the Olympics? Or if that first-prize winner ever graduated with a PhD from Cambridge? Are these appropriate measures of success?

What about the successful lawyer who gave up her career to bring up her children? Or the doctor who chose to practise medicine in the rural interiors of Sarawak instead of a private suite at SJMC? Or the financial guru who chose to work with underprivileged children in a NGO?

I can't speak for any one of you, but I know that I want my life to account for something. I leave you with some final words from Miss Cooke. She says...

"Girls of BBGS - you have a rich heritage. Look back on the founders of this school and all they stood for and fought for. Gain great courage and stimulation to live life at its highest levels and remember you can only do that as you seek God's help and receive His strength to do so.

I challenge you to live a wholesome, vibrant life totally committed to giving nothing less than your best while always remembering our school motto -
Nisi Dominus Frustra.
Without God all is in vain"

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