I learned that when it's zero degrees outside, I have the flu, and the infirmary is turning students away, to shut the hell up, go back to my room, get out my assignment and do it
I learned that the responsibility for getting my work done - just like in the real world - falls upon my shoulders and my shoulders only
I learned that there are poor teachers out there, who mail it in, care about something else, and that the best teacher I will ever have in my life is me. I used to teach this to my preschool and kindergarten students: that they will be their own best teacher, so "now" is the time to start learning and to keep learning.
I learned to feel sorry for a guy who said, "When I get out of here, I will never pick up a book again." I thought of how, when I would leave ND, how liberating it would be in terms of the world of discretionary reading opening up to me. I felt that in 1970 and still feel that way.
I learned that politics is power and that it's folly to ignore those who would deign to be leaders.
I learned that football is life and ND football is like breathing: I cannot do without it.
I learned to respect people from the frozen wastelands of Minnesota, the swamps of Louisiana, the plains of Kansas, the deserts of Arizona, the steel and concrete canyons of New York City, Chicago, St. Louis, the Commons of Boston, the streets of Natick, the suburbs of Framingham and Acton.
I learned to listen critically to an argument, spot the logical flaws, and discount them if they are poorly reasoned and improperly defended.
I learned the value of good grammar, syntax, and tense.
I learned to love 4 seasons, and still miss what that is like.
I also learned that there is no place like home, and to value and respect my parents for who they are, and to not get too worked up over our differences, because I had only one mother and only one father, and now that they are gone, that my time with them was precious.
I learned that every moment counts - that what is often a life lesson is learned sometimes only in retrospect and is the unintended consequence of failure (my own or someone else's) or perhaps is discerned only days or months later while driving alone or late at night, thinking about a past event or someone's behavior that at the time seemed totally confusing or unimportant.
I learned from the cruelty of others, the tenderness of others, the sacrifice of others, and the work ethic of others.
But I think that what I learned more than anything is that everyone has a story, and if you position yourself properly, you will learn it, and something about it will amaze you, if you cultivate your own curiosity and sense of awe. Keep your eyes open and stay curious about all things. Maybe it's the sacrifice of the working class father who sent his son to college. Maybe it's the ability of your friend to say the right thing at the right time. Maybe it's the fencing skill, the swimming skill, the piano playing skill or the writing skill of your classmates.
It has been said that there are no great poets without great audiences. Surround yourself with those of talent. Don't lock yourself in your room. You will find that sometimes you are the audience; sometimes you are the poet.
But always, surrounded by the love of God and as the hands of God, you will do great things, love greatly, suffer greatly, but ultimately, to those around you, if you are true to yourself and stay honorable and upright, you will become wise and make a difference.
Be not afraid, and go forward with the strength of a soldier, the love of a priest, the diffidence of a lover, and the resolve of a revolutionary.