Senior Speeches: Bishop Washington

March 26, 2018

A life cannot be measured in numbers.

Each year, seniors at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School deliver a speech to their peers on a topic of their choosing in the Newhall Auditorium. Often equal parts clever and moving, emotional and personal, each speech offers a glimpse into the lives, experiences, struggles, and triumphs of SSM seniors.

Throughout the 2017-18 school year, we will share these speeches with the SSM community and hope that you enjoy the humor, wisdom, and powerful reflections conveyed by our senior students.

Bishop Washington

Numbers. I don’t particularly enjoy them, in fact– I don’t like them or love them: I neither them. Yet they will always be a part of our lives.

One thing I have learned from time on earth is that we measure things with numbers. We measure the distance from California to New York in miles. We measure the amount of pop in a bottle of Coke in ounces. We measure the amount of energy your wall puts out in volts. And, we measure weight in pounds. But the question I am we are faced with is how does one measure a life? With these finite number of days, I set out on a journey to find an answer.

After years on unconcluded results I found my first sight of evidence, I realized we all have a constant presence in our lives. We have known him since birth, and he has been alongside us every second of every day since. I think he is our best friend and worst enemy wrapped in a single entity. His name is time. He puts everything in perspective,  and without him life would be practically meaningless.

See without time there would be no ends or beginnings. No starts and stops. No years. No days. No seconds. Simply put, time makes things important.

I first witnessed the value of time watching a soccer game last year. It was during summer, and the SSM U19s were playing the last league game of the year in Chicago. After the game, every player’s eyes on that team swelled with tears and they began to cry. At first I was confused. Why were a bunch of guys who I remember in Whipple would constantly complain about this place crying over leaving it now? Looking back on it now I know they were crying because there time with one another had just abruptly ended.

See, time is funny that way. We often think things are meaningless, unimportant – until they are gone and we realize how much value they had to us. Time is impatient; it will go on without you. When an elderly person dies we often say they had a long life; when a child dies we say they had a short one. And so I began thinking to myself, is this how we measure a life?

I say no.

Life itself is the most elemental, intangible thing this earth has given us. It cannot simply be measured in numbers. Numbers may have helped us accomplish amazing feats: design bridges, save lives, build cities. Yet without life, there would be no numbers.

When I die, please don’t measure my life with numbers. It won’t matter how many championships I won, how much money I made, how big my house was, how many cars I owned. At my funeral I don’t want my tombstone to say “Bishop Washington: 2000 - 2081”

I’d rather you say I had great memories and genuine laughs, that I made friends and even lost some, that I lived a life so full you can’t begin to measure it. See the problem with trying to measure life with numbers is that people who do that are always alive, but never really living.


  • News Image