There are seven days in a week. “One day” isn’t one of them

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Seems irritatingly judgemental, doesn’t it? But it also makes me think. How do we decide what to do with the time we’re given? We live in an age where we juggle busy work schedules with wider questions around purpose and passion, trying to figure out how best to optimise our ridiculously brief time on this planet. It’s not unusual to kick off this new year by plotting out the future. But early on in this decade that has kept us all on our toes, we remain uncertain of what the future holds in store. So how do we prioritise what matters most? We’re obsessed with lengthening our to-do lists, our overfilled inboxes, the struggle against distraction and the sense that our attention plans are shrivelling. Still, we rarely make the connection between our daily struggles with time and the ultimate problem: how do we best construct a meaningful life by embracing rather than denying our limitations?  

This week in the Junior School, we celebrated Winnie-the-Pooh day. Through A A Milne’s delightfully crafted stories, we have explored the various characters who inhabit Hundred Acre Wood: the kind, friendly nature of Pooh himself; Tigger’s confidence, oft misplaced; Piglet’s shy demeanour which Pooh supports in order to encourage him to have a go; Eeyore’s sad, grumpy outlook, which is accepted by his friends; Rabbit’s bossy, irritable manner that means he prefers to do things his own way; Owl’s belief that he knows a lot and Kanga’s care for the other characters. How interesting the differences are between each of these characters and how similar these characters are to our own friendship groups in school! 

We have been thinking this week about how we accept and care for one another, even when it’s not easy to do so – such as when we may annoy each other or make it harder to to be included in what others are doing. We all have differences and that is not a bad thing: there is no compulsion to change our friends. Our unique characteristics are the very things that make us who we are. Tolerating things that we may find hard and celebrating our differences are what make our friendships so special. And our diverse school community recognises these very special differences each day that we are together. We share a deep desire to express our individual identities in a safe, comfortable space. To challenge any predetermined view of what is ‘normal’. And next week in the Junior School, we shall kick off Children’s Mental Health Week through Dress to Express Monday – an opportunity to come to school wearing a colourful outfit to express ourselves. This could be dressing as our favourite superhero or simply wearing something we love – anything that makes us smile and reflects our personality. Through focusing on young people’s mental health, we develop compassion and a deeper understanding of how to care for one another.

This message was creatively shared in yesterday’s form assembly led by Lower Prep H. Our Year One students confidently portrayed the power of an ‘invisible string’ which connects us with family and friends around the globe, and indeed, with those no longer with us. They reminded us that, whether we are physically together with those who matter to us the most, every one of us may be comforted by the power of love and its connection. We live in tumultuous times. What affects one of us, affects the whole of us; ultimately, as a school community, we are one family. Where all our invisible strings intersect, we find ourselves in the real ‘world wide web’ – that collective forming an Abbey nest which holds us close. The more we love and care, the more invisible strings, and the more strings, the stronger our invisible web. One tug on the string sends love to every one of us woven together in this school tapestry – just one good deed travels along our entire web. And the more people who care for the web, the stronger it remains.

So as we end another busy school week and reflect upon whether we have been as productive as we ought, whether we have ticked off sufficient actions from the many lists which seemingly control our lives, let us reflect upon the strength of what binds us. And let’s celebrate all that is most human: may the value and potency of our finitude quietly restore a centre of gravity within. And let us remember how lucky we are as a school to be a community so tightly bound.

Nisha Kaura, Head of The Abbey Junior School

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