Headmaster’s Thoughts — January 2016

Happy New Year!

No, really, I mean it. I wish you a happy New Year. I can understand why you might not take this sentiment seriously since, by now, countless people have offered you the same sentiment.

I have received best wishes for the New Year from everyone with whom I come in contact (and some people I do not)—the sanitation men, the mailwoman, the people who refill our fire extinguishers, the . . . you get the picture. It is just that time of the year.

I certainly do not subscribe to the “New Year’s resolution” business. I do not like to put all of my eggs into one basket, funneling promises into a single day of action. Like my favorite egg, Humpty Dumpty, I prefer un-birthday presents to birthday presents, because, as Humpty explained to Alice, you get so many more of them. There are 364 un-birthdays a year except during Leap Year, in which case—yes, you got it right—there are 365 un-birthdays. I think the same goes for a good resolution; why would you possibly wait until the day of New Year to put it into place? I will get fit, be nicer to my relatives, eat healthier, smell the roses, etc., etc. They are all good goals, but surely ones that should be carried out as soon as you conceive of them. Why delay until January 1, a totally arbitrary calendar date?

In fact, without wishing to be a wet blanket, can we agree that these artificial dates stress us out? I personally have no wish to celebrate my birthdays anymore. (I think I stopped doing that when I hit 40.)  I remember time periods, not by specific years but, by the activities of Jayme’s and my children and by the dogs and horses we had. This is the “Timmy” (our poodle) time period, long may it last. Before that was the “JT” time period, a beloved bearded collie. I cannot remember the technical years, I suppose I could look them up, but I remember the time when our children were very young. I remember them as they grew older, and I remember when they went to college. What was the year? Who cares about numbers?

So, though I say I am wishing you a happy New Year, what I am really wishing you is a happy future. We are spinning on a small planet, around a fairly insignificant sun, in a large galaxy. We celebrate on a specific day, one full spin around our sun. Frankly, it makes no difference to me. I do not feel as though I am spinning. I know the Earth is round, but to me it appears flat. What I do care about are my relationships with all the people I cherish, the animals who are part of my family, and the well-being of humanity—virtually none of whom I will ever meet. The first two categories (I say selfishly) are by far the most important.

I am sure it is the same for all of us. Yet, we wish each other a happy New Year, as I do too. But my happiness wish is not just for the next year. We all know there will be times of happiness and unhappiness in our futures. Certainly, you will have more un-birthdays than birthdays. May your future also have more happy days than unhappy days.


Ronald P. Stewart