Friday, November 30, 2012

Ends and Beginnings

The ends of things very often become the beginnings of other things. Here we are at the end of the school year, and I’m sure that you, like myself, have found the time zipping by with little sense of decency for the seriousness with which we had approached it. The traditional analogy of “time is like a river” seems more and more apt, as often we are carried along with little volition, and all we can really do is admire the scenery in passing.

But there is one thing that seems to remain, to stay with us on that river, and it is the grit of relationships, those bonds of all-too-human personal encounter that both irritate us and give real traction in life. Somehow, despite all the rest, a real relationship or friendship endures, even grows. Its epitome is expressed by William Shakespeare in Sonnet 116: “Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks within his bending sickle’s compass come. Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, but bears it out even to the edge of doom.”

This may seem a bit overblown for a simple reflection at the end of a school year. Yet little do we realize the experience of others. It wouldn’t be very wrong to say that for many students, big changes lie ahead around the bend. What to parents or administrators or staff members with years of experience might simply seem to be another holiday break before school resumes, to others is the end of one world and the beginning of a whole new world of experience, whether it be Grade 1, Grade 6 (PSLE!), Grade 7, Grade 11 (IB!) or NS.

The good thing is that most of us look forward more than we look backward. We seek new things ahead, and these carry greater weight than those things that we’ve left behind. We still appreciate Woody in his toy box, and we may even carry him with us to college, but he’s now a passenger on a brand new ride. The great wonder of humanity is the fact that we can wonder at all. When imagination is ignited by reason, magic happens.

At some point in one’s life, the whole thing sort of reverses. What was old once now seems new, and those new-fangled things are just newer versions of old notions. We return to things in the past that had never received much attention from us and discover previously unknown realities because they were previously, quite literally, unseen. Eyes are opened, and what had been there all along, what was available all along, becomes graced with new meaning and suddenly carries real substance. (The bible is chock full of those stories.) Life begins anew.

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

         (T.S. Eliot - Little Gidding V)