Aristotle’s Guide to Ending the School Year Well

As the leaves unfurl and new flowers pop out every day, we’re reminded that it’s a season of change. As fellow New Englanders who have longed for spring, we know how to welcome that change, even if it leaves our sinuses a little itchy. 

But what about other changes in your life? Does change make you worry, or does it get you excited? How much time do you spend reflecting nostalgically on the past, and how much time do you spend visualizing your future? Do you lament what you’ve lost or reach excitedly for the next thing? 

If we were to ask Aristotle -- and at Montrose we always do -- he’d say: Don’t become so nostalgic about the past that you miss the opportunities before you. And don’t spend so much time daydreaming about the future that you forget to be fully present in this moment in time. Our aim is to be present to the truth before us: welcome it fully, spark with gratitude, and persevere with courage.

We are each unique individuals, with unique pasts and unique dreams. How much we look back vs. look ahead is affected by our temperament, our mood, and our experiences. But what we know is a dialectical truth: Life involves constant change, and we have a responsibility to build our life narrative through the memories we choose to gather and hold. 

There is a lot of freedom in this way of thinking about our lives: Change is not something that just happens to us; it is something we can choose to embrace. And our past is not just something that happened to us, but forms a series of choices for us to gather as memories that come to define us. Our character is ultimately shaped by our choices: how we choose amidst the opportunities before us, amidst the challenges life gives, and among the memories we choose to curate to define ourselves.

So what changes are you facing?

  • Are you a thespian who is missing your theater buddies, an athlete anticipating saying goodbye to your team, a club member finishing your last meetings, performances, events, speeches, and articles?
  • Are you a student anticipating final projects and exams, visualizing summer goodbyes with teachers and classmates, and anticipating the next school year?
  • And how about our beloved seniors? You’re visualizing your next school community, and reflecting on your middle and high school years. What memories will you choose to gather to help form your identity?

As we move through spring and into summer, there are so many memories to gather, there are some challenges to confront, and there are exciting opportunities to come. 

What can we do to make the most of this time? Be fully present for each day, embrace change, lean into challenges, and remember all that is good to help us align our compasses toward gratitude, courage and hope. 

Spring is here. Let its bright light shine within and towards others!

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Compass 10.7.16

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