The Last Word

By Sebastian Whiston | Posted: Monday May 17, 2021

What is the most important thing to have in the world?

Is it money? Is it smarts? Is it a note from the physio just in case Mr Alderton is making the sports class run up Stuart Street for the third time this week, only this time, you do it backwards?

These among plenty of other things I haven’t mentioned, certainly hold value but what if I told you they would be made redundant without one thing. People.

People are often the reason that we care so much about these small things. After all, if there were no people, what would be the point of showing off the flash things you bought or how intelligent you are? People have the unique ability to make us laugh, love and cry and the best of them are often found in the strangest places.

Over the duration of the holidays I spent 3 weeks on an Outward Bound course, living with 13 other people, 6 boys and 7 girls, all of which I had never met prior to the course and in all fairness had very different passions to mine. Yet by day 2 we were already cracking jokes and chatting like old mates. On day 8 we dove into freezing cold, fast flowing rivers putting our bodies on the line to save each other should we flip while kayaking. On day 21, as we were leaving the place many had been dreading at the beginning, we sat on the ferry home together, sharing some of the memories we had made, before we sadly said our goodbyes possibly for the final time to people who for 21 days I considered family.

That is the amazing thing about people, we come in all different shapes and sizes, colours and creeds, following all sorts of varying opinions and ideals... yet despite all of this, if given the chance every single person you meet could change your life.

Just like on Outward Bound, our past, present and future at Otago Boys' follows a similar timeline. We entered as small, nervous kids surrounded mainly by strangers. Over the years we’ve grown, formed friendships, found brothers and had many of our best moments with these people. But all journeys must come to an end and for most of us sitting in the middle row and even for some sitting on the sides the curtain call to our time at Otago Boys' is fast approaching. It doesn’t have to be the day where we will say farewell to our brothers and go our separate ways. A real man of oak does not forget its roots so easily, as Charlie Marsh said in 2019 “True friends don’t say goodbye, they simply say see you soon”.

But no matter whether you'll see them soon or if it's the last time, make the most of every moment with the people in your life… because as I have learned sometimes you don’t get to say goodbye. So, look out for those brothers. Don’t change yourself for them and don’t make them change for you; in the perfect world people would not judge others by their tangible assets but by the content of their character.

Try not to always make your mates the butt of a joke even if it is a certain cricketer. We’ve all had ducks, he's just staying consistent. Do not focus your life solely on fame and fortune for those foundations are made of sand, focus on people and you will never fall.

In 50 years when I look back on my time at Otago Boys’ or even on my life as a whole I doubt I will remember the traditions or the results, but the people I will never forget.

So I ask once more. What is the most important thing in the world?

It is the people, it is the people, it is the people.