Headmaster's Thoughts: November 2022

Dreams are interesting. In mine, I am always a young man dealing with absurd situations in my former body. I think of myself as a young man in an old body, but dreams do not work that way, at least not for me. I youthfully run, duck, advance, and do all the things that I would have great difficulty (which is a euphemistic phrase for “impossible”) doing with my current creaky limbs.  There is something reassuring in that dream world, even though when I wake, I realize it is completely non-realistic. 
This makes me wonder how many “fake” worlds we live in? Every time I see a famous celebrity in the newspapers or on television, they are smiling as though they are having the time of their lives. You cannot have the time of your life all the time of your life. I see advertisements for people with really distressing diseases, smiling and laughing because they are taking a pill or injection (the one that is being advertised). But they still have the serious disease. The advertisers are required to give the list of side effects of these medications. While they quickly describe the awful things that could happen while taking the stuff, the actors on the screen are laughing, throwing balls for their dogs, and generally having a wonderful time. Even though someone is talking about the possibility of death occurring.
What fantasists we are. Adults in particular, like to present themselves as happy and successful, without any acknowledgment of the personal challenges they are facing. Children are more real. They display their real emotions far more obviously. A child that is suffering from sadness, does not, usually, run around laughing, throwing balls for their dogs, and generally showing off what a wonderful time they are having. Of course they would not be hired for the advertisements (see above). I am a big fan of optimism, a real quality, but being “happy, happy, happy” all the time is being “unrealistic, unrealistic, unrealistic” just as much. Marilyn Monroe always laughed. Rock Hudson always smiled. I know, I am revealing my age buy referring to the stars of yesteryear, but we only discover later the mental torment they were going through. Smile for the camera!  
Which brings me to the Royals who are there because they are the descendants of successful warlords. Since I was brought up in England, many people have asked me my opinion of the death of the Queen, and the ascension of Charles 111. Personally, it is sad when anyone passes away. But the funeral ceremonies, taking over a week as they did, seemed to me to be over the top. The Queen was 96 when she passed away. A great “run”!  It cannot have come as that much of a shock. It should be a celebration if nothing else. All that solemnity! If I reach 96, I want dancing at my funeral with noisy rock music from the 60’s, and maybe a magician for the children. In the case of the Royals, the staging of the grief, along with smiles, contributed to my sense that this family does not ever want to show their true feelings, just like too many of us.
So let us hear it for acknowledgment that we cannot smile all the time. Ups come with downs. We age. We get depressed. We get over it. Optimism is acknowledging that there will be tough times, but that times will get better. That the present problems may be replaced by others, but that there also will be joys replaced by other joys. I am grateful for what I have, and not happy at my bodily aches and pains. No pill is going to make me dance around (with dog, etc) when I am aching. I would rather not have the aches. But I hope to learn to live with them. “Happy, happy, happy” is, to put it bluntly, “nonsense, nonsense, nonsense”.
Ronald P. Stewart
York Prep