“I've wrestled with reality for thirty five years, Doctor, and I’m happy to state I finally won out over it."
In the 1950 comedy classic film Harvey, Jimmy Stewart is delightful as the slightly askew and rather eccentric Elwood P. Dowd. As a bit of a social outcast Elwood’s sister and niece fear that he is either struggling with alcoholism or mental illness. You see, he insists upon introducing all of his acquaintances to Harvey, who happens to be a pooka. ‘What exactly is a pooka?’ you may ask. Well, a pooka is a creature from Celtic mythology who often takes the form of an animal. Harvey is an invisible (to most) rabbit who stands over 6 feet tall.
The issue here seems to be an obvious one. It bedevils his matronly sister who attempts to have him locked up in a sanitarium. Meanwhile, simple and oblivious to the drama surrounding him, Elwood goes about life. At one point when the doctor and nurse catch up to him, he is asked about Harvey as the doctor attempts to pin down the cause of this apparent hallucination. Here’s what happens: https://youtu.be/hBvpxzl54D8
Well, the film is a fun bit of madness and misunderstanding and Jimmy Stewart is an absolute gem. Later in the film we get a glimpse of his philosophy of life as he shares an anecdote from his mother: https://youtu.be/UUOxEwCuEgQ
Wow. So much is summed up in those words. “In this life you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant. Well for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant.”
We are tasked with helping students learn and be ‘smart,’ but I would implore you to recognize this secondary and equally important task of teaching them to be pleasant. This begins with how we treat one another as staff, how we interact with them as students, and the expectations that we have for how the students interact with one another. Can we expect perfection? Well, we can expect it but trust me in saying that you will be quickly disappointed. Rather, we should strive to approach each day and each interaction with intentional positivity. Let’s make that a part of our Identity here at Ada-Borup.
Having closed out a period of special relationship building during Homecoming last week, let’s build on that and use it to propel us to new heights. One thing that I so appreciate about this school is the high level of expectation that we have in all areas – not simply academics or activities, but in our interpersonal interactions. Let’s continue to encourage one another and choose to be ‘Oh so pleasant’ today!