What is gone and what is to come
The Roman god Janus knocked on our doors earlier this week, reminding us to look backwards into the past to reflect on what has been and to look forwards and think about what is to come.
One of the attributes I have enjoyed gaining with the years is greater self-discipline. In the last three years, I have joined the 8% average of people who set a resolution and then keep it for the entire year. In 2015, I wrote a hand-written letter each week to family and friends. In 2016, I visited London at least twice a month better to get to know our fascinating capital city. In 2017, I rode my bicycle at least twice a week, come rain or shine. All three resolutions provided great rewards: a connection with those who are important in my life (2015); cultural riches (2016) and fitness and one stone weight loss (2017).
It is important to keep ourselves outward looking and engaged in the world around us, especially if the life style we live potentially will narrow our life experience. I could spend every waking hour of every day doing all that is required to be a Headmaster in 2018. I could spend all day replying to emails, let alone everything else my work demands. But balance and inner refreshment are vital to a well-rounded, fully-functioning individual.
Shortly after taking up post as Head of Bickley Park, I attended a Headmaster’s conference in which one of the speakers, Jon Bockelmann-Evans, advocated that Head’s should find time to do something ‘Creative, Relaxing, Active, Practical’ to keep themselves fresh. I have introduced this concept into the appraisal system for staff at the school, as a great teacher is one who is fresh and enthusiastic: part of my duty of care as Head is to contribute towards this state of mind. The targets have led to a huge range of activities amongst the staff, ranging from tap dancing to learning musical instruments.
This year, I intend to do two things to continue to maintain balance and roundedness in my life:
- Help set a world record by getting a large number of children to eat ‘99’ ice creams at the same time whilst achieving an exciting charitable objective
- Learn a poem off by heart every other month.
I will be starting off my second aim by learning a superb W. H. Auden poem I found inscribed on a bench on top of the South Downs last year:
Look, stranger, on this island now
The leaping light for your delight discovers,
Stand stable here
And silent be,
That through the channels of the ear
May wander like a river
The swaying sound of the sea.
Here at a small field’s ending pause
Where the chalk wall falls to the foam and its tall ledges
Oppose the pluck
And knock of the tide,
And the shingle scrambles after the suck-
-ing surf, and a gull lodges
A moment on its sheer side.
Far off like floating seeds the ships
Diverge on urgent voluntary errands,
And this full view
Indeed may enter
And move in memory as now these clouds do,
That pass the harbour mirror
And all the summer through the water saunter.
I would encourage all to find the time and energy to take themselves beyond the norm of the everyday in doing something to refresh the inner man/woman in 2018.