Last weekend an email went out from my school alumni association telling us all that my ex-headmaster had passed away. I'm not actually sure how old he was because through teenage eyes he already seemed quite old - and that was quite some time ago. Still, it came as a bit of a shock as you sometimes feel that certain people that exist in a bubble were just meant to live forever. At school he taught me A-Level History. I was fortunate enough to be awarded the course prize in both senior years and, ultimately, I went onto university to read History. So it's fair to say he had a bit of a bearing on my path into adulthood.
The thing is I don't actually think of him in the context of the course at all. In fact, he really wasn't that good a teacher. A bit rambly if I remember. But as a person he was just such a charismatic, warm, energetic and genuine kind of guy. Even when I bumped into him in the street many years after both he and I had departed the school, he still had so much to offer in terms of kind words, friendliness, advice and humour. And this whole episode got me thinking about a life coaching technique I know involving leaving a legacy. To set the scene, imagine you've just passed away (not a winning thought but roll with it). A friend stands up at a gathering to read a eulogy on you to all your other friends and family. What would you want your eulogy to say about the life you have led (winning character traits, achievements, people who have loved you, people you've loved)? Then think: What would it actually say if it were to be done truthfully now? A tad morbid, perhaps, but it does get you thinking about what kind of gift you're already giving to the world and the huge amount of other stuff and human potential that you could throw into the mix.
Nobody's perfect and I'm sure the headmaster had as many frailties as the next person. But I will remember him fondly based on what impression he left on me. So, thanks, for everything, Mr Thomson.