Encouraging Students to Find Their Inner Voice

Rachel Breitweser ’03

April 7, 2016

After college, Eric Saperston bought a VW Bus, took his dog Jack and embarked on a trip to follow the Grateful Dead. What began as a journey of self-discovery unfolded into something larger. Along the way, he called up some of the most influential people in the world and asked them out for a cup of coffee.

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Saperston, joined by three other journeyers, traveled the country for four years, shot hours of footage and interviewed over 200 people from all walks of life in search of inspiration and wisdom. The resulting film, “The Journey,” which features Jimmy Carter, Billy Crystal, Henry Winkler and others, premiered in 2001 and won several awards.

“The simple goal to ‘live in wonder’ cuts through all the clutter,” Saperston, the Spirit and Health Speaker this year, explained to the School community in March. “Wonder is about being open to new things,” he said.

Speaking to students in chapel, the filmmaker and author told stories from his youth as a national champion wrestler. At the height of his high school career, he decided to quit.

“I wasn’t fulfilled, so I trusted my instinct,” he said. It was a difficult decision but a great lesson in listening to and nurturing his inner voice. Saperston discovered what his intuition was telling him: to love people and to be curious. “Trust that voice in you. It’s the most important voice there is,” he said.

That instinct, he explained, is your rudder to navigate choices in life. For example, “a calling does not come in the form of an occupation,” Saperston shared. Rather, personal values lead to a field of work.

He offered tips to students: “The best way to hear that voice inside is to be quiet and step away from the noise.” Unplug, get into nature, open your mind, take risks and try different things.

“I call it ‘the hum,’” Saperston explained. When he feels an exhilaration and tingle, he knows he’s on a good path. Saperston also likens the inner voice to a radio signal: once you have that signal dialed in, it will be so strong you can’t control it, and it will catapult you. On the flip side, discovering what you don’t like is equally useful.

“Success is only what we determine it to be,” said Saperston. “It’s based on your own measurements.” Living close to nature, being part of a good community and enjoying the art of music are Saperston’s current hallmarks of success.

Finding your own path doesn’t mean you should go it alone though. “It’s about surrounding yourself with trusted advisors and friends that have your best interests in mind, and weighing their insights against your own,” Saperston explained.

The speaker gave students one last assuring message: “The world will support you in what you’re great at.”

The Spirit and Health Speaker series, established in 1998 as a platform to demonstrate the relationship between spiritual and physical health, is made possible by the Dr. Raymond Fah and Estelle Kan Kong Endowed Fund and the Chaplain Kenneth O. and Doris A. Rewick Endowed Fund.

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