You are not special – but you can be

(Part of my talk at ELC High School where I shared about social media literacy)

“Finally let me get to something that I want to share from the core of my heart – while speaking my mind as usual.

I am sure your parents, your teachers and the speakers before me must have told you that you are special. So, let me be the black sheep, and tell you some hard stuff. Maybe for your mother, you are special. To the rest of the world, you are not. The world doesn’t give a damn of your existence. You are just one of the 7 billion creatures on earth – called humans. When you leave this school, no college is going to roll out a red carpet for you. For those heading for the job market, the reception will even be worse.

When I was in school, I was told that I was special. Every VIP told us that we were special. But after I graduated from there, I felt like a stray dog. I spent one full week wandering around in Thimphu – in a deep winter, to get a slot for further studies. The same chief guest who told that we were special didn’t want to even see me.

You are not special. But…..  You. Can. Be. One.

You are not special. But…..  You. Can. Be. One. You can be special. However, you must earn that special place. You can only be – by doing something good to others – and by being in service of the community, King and country. Doing good should be a habit. It is like respect. You must earn it. You must work hard. You must practice. You must start from today. Right now. Sorry, not right now. Right now, please listen to my speech. 

You can start by being a special person to your classmate, to your roommate. You can be a special person to this school. Then when you grow up, you will be special person to your community and the humanity – at large. Remember, the world doesn’t owe anything to you or me. We owe it to the world.

This country doesn’t owe anything to you or me. We owe it to this country.

For me, every moment of my day or my life, I try to be of service to others. It has now become my second nature. I try to be nice – even nice to total strangers.

Last week, I was hiking up to Taktsang. When I reached the waterfall below Khandro Yeshey Tshogyel’s caves, I overtook an old and fat Indian lady. I am saying “old and fat”, not to demean her but to make a point that she was unable to proceed any further – because of her weight and age. She was breathless. Taktshang stands at over 10,000 feet and one can suffer altitude sickness – especially among people coming from lower altitude. I thought she was sick so I ran some medical questions with her. “Are you OK? Are your feeling nausea?” “Headache?” “Do you have stomach cramp?” These are the symptoms of altitude sickness.

She had none. So, I joked to her that “you Indians, you eat too much rasmalai.” She smiled. I continued in perfect Hindi, “Actually, I like rasmalai and I am sure I eat more than you” She smiled again. “Come on, you have walked up till here and you are giving up?” “We will do it together. Hold my stick. I will pull you up like a gaur”. I let her hold one end of my walking stick and I started pulling her uphill. She was heavy. There are at least 200 steps to get to the top. A near vertical climb. We made a few steps each time and stopped to catch our breath. I taught her breathing exercise. I encouraged her. I raised her spirit by telling her that if she wanted, I can also call a flying tiger. I told her that I had Guru’s number.

After a vigorous 30 minutes (usually I take less than 10) we made it to the top. When we finally did the last step, there was a loud cheer from other tourists and visitors who were watching the whole drama. She looked at me and said, “Thank you. Thank you. You are my God today”. I felt nice. I felt special. I even thought that if had become a God, I should try flying off from Taktshang. I changed my mind and decided walking was still better for now.

To end my speech, as I said, to your mother, you are special. Furthermore, I must add two more persons for whom you are special. First, is your Principal here – madam Deki – an extraordinary educationist – a good human being. To her each one of you are special. She feels for you like a mother. And then as Bhutanese, each one of us, we are special in the eyes of our King. You can trust me on this.

Since the people for whom you are special are so rare, then what I want you to do is that as you grow up, I want you to never fail them – EVER! I want you to make them proud. Because to them, no matter what, you will always be special. For the rest of the humanity, you will have to earn your rights. Remember your parents don’t owe anything to you. Our King doesn’t owe anything to us. Your principal doesn’t owe anything to you. 

Start today, keep doing and keep going.

I wish you all a great day.”

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