Fail Me Not, Captain Kirk

by | Mar 2, 2023 | Blog

Dear Boundless Families:

Yesterday morning I asked the students to give me a topic for a “Stevening”. They chose “Secrets of Adulthood”.

They think I am an adult. Imagine that. I tried to convince them otherwise, and the evening took on a tinge of hilarity amidst a backdrop of deliberately conjured negativity.

It had been a while since I got a sense of this gang of rascals. I noticed how the new-ish students were fully integrated into this band of eclectics. Their voices have emerged. Nicknames given. Couch buddies with many. They showed up to the stevening in their nighties, just like most everyone else does in this pajama school.

Feeling lazy, I tried a shortcut by getting ideas from that CHATGPT, the artificial intelligence thing that is touted to be as impactful as the invention of the printing press. 

I asked the creature to write an essay on the secrets of said adulthood. It spit out an array of cliche’s and platitudes that would make the worst insomniac snore in bliss. 

I knew I couldn’t use a word. Cliches won’t fly with teens. For the most part, they have heard them before and it is their job to think that adults who rely on them are buffoons.

Instead, I had a think. I tried to conjure something real. And because all adults are keenly aware, especially the Buddha, that life can be suffering, I veered negative. They ate it up.

I chose three secrets.

1) I showed them a clip of the movie The Legend of Buster Scruggs (on Netflix if you are interested – first chapter). The thesis of this brilliant piece of writing is a hard truth. Don’t be disappointed when people disappoint you. If you expect otherwise, then, well, you are just being foolish. 

After much discussion, we concluded that as an adult, people will let you down, and you will let others down. Uplifting, I know.

2) After telling a personal story about a moral dilemma I faced ten years ago, I spoke at length, to their rapt and exquisite attention, that the weight of decisions that grown-ups often have to make can be crushing. And these decisions will affect many people. 

3) Finally, in an attempt to end with some practical advice, I played them an episode of the 1960’s Star Trek series (season one, episode 15, entitled Balance of Terror). In this masterpiece, two brilliant foes face off in strategic battle, and the loser, at the moment of his destruction, tells Captain Kirk, “You and are of a kind. I could almost call you friend.” This comment brought down the house. Quiche was enthralled. Kirk, you never fail me.

A successful adult doesn’t take things personally. You can respect and value someone who is against you, or disagrees with you. Or even tries to defeat you. Ultimately, it’s not about you. This can be hard to comprehend, especially for me. It left them in a state of wonder.

Notwithstanding the darkness, we all had a blast. Ewe digressed whenever he could. Lily of the Valley learned a new word – patronizing. Seb just kept nodding her head at every example of human frailty. Quiche wore sunglasses until he realized that was rather ridiculous. J., sitting beside me, quipped, “It’s trying too hard Quiche.” This landed. Quiche chuckled with the familiarity of a sibling being held to account.

Your kids are cooking, skiing, skating, sewing and learning their way to glory. I have never seen so much snow up here, in this clumsy paradise that is filled with joy and never ending moments  for our students to show their mettle.

Until next time,


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Steven Gottlieb
Steven Gottlieb