Some of our most memorable teachers come from everyday life, as Glenwood High school year 11 student Con Constanti and his classmates discovered recently.
“I want you to hold on to this $20 note and no matter what, never let it go, cause when things aren’t going your way you can look at this and remember what I’ve told you today.”
It is Friday, February 8, and we have been asked to go down to the school hall to listen to a speaker.
The hall is full of seniors and there is just one man sitting reclining on drama cubes on stage.
His words are magnetic.
With him, we travel through his life --the cruel pranks, the pain and challenges, his friendship with Kenny, his determination, his son, his successes.
We are being asked a question.
“What is your life worth?”
“Priceless”, I said with my hand up.
The answer started filling the room.
John had asked me to join him on stage at the front of the auditorium, introducing himself as he handed me a $20 bill.
What I would do if I had found the money, he asked.
He laughed as he happily agreed with the simplicity of my answer.
“I’d pick it up.’’
He handed me the bill, telling me to drop it on the floor and walk back and forth over it then bring it back to him.
“Con, would you still want this $20 note as it has been walked all over?”
Yes. It’s money!
“Good, now go put it back on the ground and jump on it.”
I did as I was asked, feeling completely embarrassed in front of my peers.
John called me back over: “Con do you still want it?”
“What if I scrunch it up and throw it on the floor?”
My answer was a strong “Yes”, as I reached for the ground, picking up the money.
“Well Con that just goes to show what you or anyone would do for $20 dollars.
‘‘People your age would gladly run across the M7 for this, when your life is worth more than the risk.
See this $20 dollar bill has been crushed, walked on, jumped on and treated like rubbish.
‘‘Yet it’s still wanted.
‘‘It will straighten itself out.
‘‘Your life is priceless.
‘‘So when times get tough remember that you will eventually straighten yourself out.
‘‘This is material, you are priceless.
‘‘So I want you to hold onto this $20 note and, no matter what, never let it go, because when things aren’t going your way you can look at this and remember what I’ve told you today.’’
In a few minutes, John Coutis showed me what a life is really worth.
An amazing man with no legs, a double amputee, a man whose life had been a hard journey.
He looked back calmly on the best and worst times in his life and decided that life was worth living and mattered.
The $20 dollar note is going to be framed and put on my wall as reminder of what I learnt and how much of an impact he has had on my life.
Motivation, as John said, lasts a few minutes.
Inspiration lasts a lifetime.