A few evenings ago, I opened the Netflix app on my phone and browsed “recommended” movies as I spun on the stationary bike in Proctor’s fitness center. I clicked on Moneyball (for the third or fourth time), and as I mindlessly listened to the dialogue, I thought little of the Hollywood dramatization of Billy Bean’s experiment to use data to measure the intangibles that would allow him to build a winning team out of the small market Oakland A’s in 2002.
Temperatures in the 70s, sunshine, and blue skies have been a gift to our students and faculty as we enter the home stretch of the Fall Term. We soak up every moment of these extra days of meals and classes outside and our final practices before Holderness Weekend knowing well this weather won't last. We encourage each other to live in the moment, to suck the marrow out of each day, not knowing what the next will bring in this COVID-19 laden world.
Today we voted. We voted because we have been granted the right to do so under the representative democracy designed by America’s founding fathers nearly 250 years ago. Every four years, like clockwork, through times of war and economic hardship and domestic unrest, citizens gather in their communities to vote for President of the United States and other offices. As we step behind the red and white curtain in the gym at Andover Elementary Middle School to cast our vote, we are reminded that our voice is powerful and that our voice matters.
Sometimes a good, sensible essay can settle the mind. Well-crafted sentences with their musicality, their soothing rhythms, and their carefully selected words are almost akin to deep breathing exercises - or baseball games. Meditative. Centering. Moving at their own, requisite pace. This week, as we seem to hurtle towards next week’s presidential elections, I have found it helpful to turn to EB White now that the MLB season is over. His pieces are measured, precise in their totality. Sane. As the Dodgers vanquished the Rays this week, it was not hard to imagine EB White appreciating the games. Today, two volumes of his collected works sit on my desk, so much linguistic sanity. A double header’s worth of pieces.
The fiery reds and oranges of mid-October maples have given way to the rusts and browns of November oaks. Forecasted snow tonight confirms winter is near; the inevitable changing of seasons upon us. It is hard to imagine a more pleasant weather pattern than Fall in New Hampshire - cool nights, warm days, abundant sunshine, and scenery to match. A look through Proctor’s Flickr page looks like one big brochure for boarding school, and yet when we experience a few rainy days in a row, we seemingly forget the beauty that so recently surrounded us.
One of my favorite podcasts is Guy Raz’s How I Built This. There’s something about the raw, unfiltered stories he tells of entrepreneurs and their journey that resonates with the work we do each day with adolescents at Proctor. Very few successful businesses, or students, have a linear path to success, and it is during the valleys where lessons are learned and business models are refined.
We all experience moments when we struggle to initiate. We stare at our computer screen and wait for inspiration to strike, longing for our to-do list to snap into a sharp focus we have not experienced for months. Sometimes it does and we experience that elusive sensation called productivity. Far more often, we don’t. We drift through our days, doing our best to engage over Zoom meetings, Webex calls, and emails, longing for face-to-face human interaction.