May 26, 2020
The following essay is adapted from MPA Class of 2020 member Charlie Galicich’s Senior Speech.
When I was nine days old, I was diagnosed with coarctation of the aorta, a heart defect that required immediate surgery. Essentially, an important blood vessel in my heart hadn’t opened correctly at birth, so my body wasn’t getting enough oxygen. Even though I remember nothing about that day, I can imagine that I’ve never since been as stressed and fearful as I was in those few hours that must have felt like I was suffocating.
I used to have a different outlook on this heart-iversary of mine. To me, it all seemed to represent the beginning of an unlucky life. I was annoyed that I was the only one in my family with a heart defect. I was irked that my chest throbbed so hard each time I got nervous. I was irritated with my right leg being shorter than my left. It all seemed pretty unfair.
But as I look at my life today, that all just seems like pointless whining. Not everything about my life has been perfectly ideal at all times, or how I would have envisioned it. But it has been because of all of this wrong, because I had this close call, because I am imperfect, that my life is as beautiful as it is today. I’m truly very lucky to have had such a wonderful, uninhibited experience. Every May 1st, I’m aware that my life could have been quite different. Often, I stress and worry and work hard because I want to make the most of the luck that gave me the life I have today. But I cannot allow fear of things going wrong to get in my way. To do so would be to learn the wrong lessons from 18 years ago.
I’ve slowly come to this realization this year with the help of one big thing. I know that the last two words most of you want to hear me say right now are “Writing Lab,” but bear with me for a moment. When I began Writing Lab, I had an idealistic vision of a full spreadsheet each week, with the entire upper school indulging in my system.
Obviously this did not happen, especially right away. When I compared the actual, seemingly meager turnout to my vision, I felt as if I had failed. My avid desperation to make things right was demonstrated at each Monday Morning Meeting, where I would embarrass myself in hopes of drawing enough people in to match my expectations, saying choice lines like “At MPA, we always swipe left on bad grammar.” Somehow, this convinced some of you to take a chance on me. Writing Lab still doesn’t look exactly how I envisioned, but I would never even consider calling it a failure now. I’m proud of the work that myself and others have put into this project. Things may not look how I had planned, but confronting that fear instead of shying from it has made Writing Lab into one of the most enjoyable tangents of my life so far.
Through all of this, I’ve been far from alone. I’m lucky enough to have an extensive support system of people and I could never thank them enough for all they have given to me.
Thank you to all of my friends. My friendship with you has made me more confident, trusting, and an overall better friend. You’ve assured me that I can find home anywhere, as long as I find the right people. I hope my new friends down the road can make me smile as big and laugh as hard as you all do.
Thank you to MPA for providing a welcoming community for the last twelve years. I’m lucky to go to a school where every single person wants to be there and cares so deeply about making one another better.
There’s plenty to be stressed and worried about. One look around our world today certainly verifies this. But just because things don’t go according plan doesn’t mean things won’t be okay. We’re all lucky enough to be part of this wonderful MPA community that is keeping our spirits high in spite of the craziness. Life is confusing and full of detours and fear, but even in such lows, there is beauty to be found as long as one can recognize their blessings. For it is the low points that make the vistas of our greatest joys and triumphs even more wonderful.