Attitude of Gratitude. I first heard this phrase years ago from Jen Fletcher as she talked about students who thrive at Proctor, students we want at Proctor. It’s applicable to adults as well as student: the attitude of gratitude. We all need to cultivate it, need to preserve it, need to see it as an essential element of inner balance. There are books written about this sort of thing, naturally, and the best one I have seen recently is Oliver Sacks’ slim collection of final essays published as Gratitude. It is a powerful, forty-five pages reminder.
Sometimes the attitude of gratitude slips during busy times, and busy times, we all know, stretch across the winter months. It was yesterday when a plate of cookies in the faculty lounge arrived, that something more than hunger rumbled and reminded me. The cookies were part of a stream of food that has made its way into Maxwell Savage this week, part of faculty and staff appreciation initiated by PAPA. Cheesecake, lemon squares, pumpkin cookies, dark chocolate brownies, pizza, fruit – the treats have been spread out on a table over this exam week as both both delight and test of wills, a different kind of exam for adults.
One cookie yesterday morning – peanut butter with a Hershey’s Kiss – got me thinking about collaboration, accomplishment, and gratitude. Pam Gentile P'17 was delivering a plate to the mailroom, and she dropped one off for me. Just that small act triggered thoughts of greater community gratitude from the week. Here are just a few of the images that came with the cookie: From the play Harvey, an intricate set, revolving, and stunningly realistic, twirls the audience and the narrative from scene to scene; last Saturday night the rink fills with students skating while PAPA volunteers grill burgers and help students who want to skate find a pair among the dozens that have been donated for PAPA On Ice; a Tuesday tour through the dining commons job site with Will Ames allows me to witness the dance of drillers, framers, and plumbers working a tight job site. These images filled me with gratitude.
Of course I took the cookie. Who can resist peanut butter and chocolate? As I leaned against the radiator in my office, munching the cookie, maybe I faltered on the test of will power, but it was a great moment. More than the taste of chocolate and peanut butter was the sweetness of gratitude for students, faculty, staff, and parents and all who have contributed to the making of this winter term.
Enjoy a wonderful break…,and a cookie.
Mike Henriques P'11, P'15
Proctor Academy Head of School