Headmaster’s Assembly – 1 December 2016


I am going fishing this holiday. This is an activity I used to do often when I lived in Port Elizabeth and we are lucky enough to be going back to that part of the world on holiday. Please note I didn’t say I was going to catch fish – I said I was going fishing! You see, fishing is a pastime or activity that has many moments of inactivity, many moments when you just stand there or sit there, waiting, watching and hoping. It is in these moments that my sanity returns after the freneticism of work. It is in the times of quite reflection that I can think about what I have done and what I still have to do.

I am naturally quite introverted – strange perhaps for someone who does the job I do. Being introverted does not mean being shy, which I am not, it means that we often look within ourselves for energy as opposed to extroverts who look to others as a source of energy. As an introvert, being able to sit quietly, without the pressure of company, just thinking, is heaven and I find that when I am fishing. The ocean has a mesmerising and hypnotic effect on one as it changes and moves according to hidden forces and influences. It is a bit like staring into a fire in the evenings – watching one of nature’s forces while quietly reflecting on one’s own existence.

So why do I share with you this personal story, why do I speak of the sea and of fire? I do this to encourage you to find a place or find a time for your own quiet reflection. It could be in a church, it could be going for a walk, it could be lying on your back one evening starting up at the stars. All that is required of you is a quiet space, away from others, without any electronic devices and with a focus that you can look at the starts the reflective process – and time. Lots if it. Think back on your past year – look at your successes, analyse your regrets and cringe at those embarrassing moments! Laugh at the happy times and feel sad again for those moments that hurt. Accept that sometimes you did well and sometimes not. Accept that you have control over some things and not over others. Then look ahead and ask yourself what you want from the year ahead. It must be personal, it must be real.

The process of meditation, reflection, personal thought, prayer even – call it what you like – is an essential part of our human development as we quieten our minds from outside influences.

There are three methods to gaining wisdom. The first is reflection, which is the highest. The second is by imitation, which is the easiest. The third is experience, which is the bitterest. Confucius
So have a wonderful holiday, filled with good memories, time with family and friends, laughter, happiness, dancing and craziness but also have time for reflection, quiet, peace and a refreshing of your souls, your inner beings.

I wish you a peaceful and happy holiday.

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