Claude Monet understood the reality that the world never stops moving as he captured moments in time with a slight blur, the movement within the moment we too often miss. Possessing the same root, the difference between a moment and momentum lies in our own desire to isolate a single period of time rather than appreciate all that is happening around that specific moment.
I visited six freshman seminar classes in Shirley Hall this week, enjoying the chance to get a read on who will help us build and sustain the Proctor community over the next four years. The intent of this one term program is to help ground these incoming students, answer questions for them, and help them center down for the next four years.
Working and living at a boarding school is an incredible gift, but at times becomes insular in nature as our entire existence occurs within the Proctor bubble. Sure, we watch the news and stay in touch with others through social media and texting, but periodically stepping outside this bubble with intentionality allows us to gain valuable perspective on how we are living our lives with a macro-mindset.
When Lindsey Allenby gathered the senior class after assembly on Monday for their class photo, I looked over. There was a lot laugher, some kidding around, and the mood was upbeat and positive. Lindsey snapped pictures, the group scattered, and it was only later, reflecting on the class, that I thought about the background hum of stress coursing through the group. When the college process peaks in the fall of senior year, the pressures can mount to unreasonable and unhealthy levels.
It feels like we have been opening school in gradual, gentle stages. There’s a methodology behind the soft start, but sometimes it feels a little like walking into a supermarket with only the dairy section open. Or the snacks aisle. Or maybe fruits and vegetables, but not the canned goods. Definitely not the ice cream, and definitely not the entire store. We gather and begin in fits and starts: Early Orientation, Regular Orientation, Sports Camp, Campus transition day...it feels like the school lights blink on over weeks!
For 86% of my life, I’ve lived with the rhythm of an academic year. Every September since kindergarten, I’ve readied myself for the start of school and the anticipation of possibilities that lie ahead, as a student for the first seventeen years and as an educator for the last fourteen. There’s something energizing, addicting even, about the clean slate that awaits us during those first days of a new school year. Rarely in other fields are you annually presented with an opportunity to start over, to redefine yourself, to set forth clear goals with a ten month timeline to achieve them.
Thursday evening I hit the trail to drop in on a Wilderness Orientation group. It was getting dark, but I knew where the group had camped along the Pond Brook Trail in the Sandwich Wilderness. I knew the swimming holes, knew the rerouted section, knew the waterfalls. I jogged up through a tree farm a little after 6:30 pm. The sun had dropped down behind the Sandwich Range, and where the Guinea Pond trail angled left, I hooked a right on the Bennett Street trail to run along Pond Brook in the softening light. The dog stitched back and forth through the pines, and after a mile or two I caught the sound of laughter against the brook. It was Patty Pond and Lori Patriacca’s ‘01 group.