The way this spring has unfolded, with three inches of snow on the ground Thursday morning, it’s hard not to think February thoughts even as we lean towards May. I saw Wari in his thick winter coat yesterday morning and asked him about the snow. “I am ready for it to go,” he said. He hopped a little, bounced up and down on the balls of his feet as though wanting to get into the game of spring, or maybe he just wanted to warm up. His jacket was zipped to his chin.
In the NYT last week I read the timely essay, Being There: Heidegger and Why Our Presence Matters. It seems particularly relevant given the weather, given our proclivity to withdraw when the grey and cold drops unexpectedly down.
The essay reveals how having the ability to focus on the now allows for the possibilities of existence to take a fuller form. Okay….nothing particularly revelatory there. But the piece by Lawrence Berger progresses to elaborate on how this awareness, this vigilance of focus, allows for us to see a thing for its whole and for its fuller potential. The better we focus the more it becomes - different than the more we become – and the world stretches towards it potential. The example Berger gives reminds us what it feels like when we are wholly listened to, and how we “…feel more alive, we feel our true selves coming to the surface – this is the sense in which worldly presence matters.”
Outside, the buds are clenched tight against the April cold – tiny red and yellow balls fisting against the wind. The yellow fingers of daffodil shoots, mallards exploding off the Blackwater River, the drip of sap into a galvanized buckets – these things matter. Even the snow. Especially the snow. We can chose to ignore these vagaries of April, but to do so is to somehow be a little less than fully alive, and to leave the world a little less fully whole.
The Heidegger piece is a reminder that within Proctor, each moment of the day offers the potential to bring the community a little more fully to life simply by noticing. By paying a little more attention to the pieces that make up the community. By slowing down. That can mean taking the time to go into the kitchen to talk to Ty Morris after dinner, it can mean listening to Wari wishing snow away, or it can mean delighting in the rumble of the DOT sander truck passing by on Route 11, and maybe this kindles a little more warmth on a cold April morning.
During a reluctant spring, that’s a good thing.
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Mike Henriques P'11, P'15
Proctor Academy Head of School