Prefect Chapel Speech, 26 September

This past summer I was challenged by a few anxious thoughts about the new school year and what it would entail.

The theme of ‘new beginnings’ can scare some and motivate others.  You may feel it represents the end of an era, which is inevitably balanced by the start of something new.  However, when I reflected further I realised that, in perspective, life ultimately only has one beginning and one end.  Birth and death.  By saying something is a ‘new beginning’ we are closing off what has come before. Instead, I feel we should see life as a journey, for instance, in a car.

The key in the ignition is a metaphor for being born.  The revving of the engine symbolises childhood, before we grow up and are free to roam the road.  Once upon the road we will encounter hazards, red lights and the occasional bad driver.  Solely staring in the rear view mirror (our past) for prolonged periods or, even worse, turning to look behind us, will cause a crash as dwelling on the past prevents us looking forwards. 

Never looking back can deprive us of a crucial perspective.  A good driver reaches his destination, occasionally checking the rear view mirror, learning from what he has passed and reconciling that with the journey ahead; yet with his hands firmly on the wheel, ready for oncoming challenges.

The message is that ‘new beginnings’ do not close a door to the past, but rather open one to the future.  The past builds our character and makes us who we are; however, whilst we should never completely lose sight of the lessons of the past, our vision should focus on the road ahead.

Harry North