From the Headmaster
Blazing your trail,
Too high, too far, too soon,
You saw the whole of the moon.
Mike Scott (of the Waterboys)
No one is entirely sure of the subject of Mike Scott’s 1985 song The Whole of the Moon. Perhaps CS Lewis? I feel it is best left for listeners to decide for themselves. The important truth is that there are some people who, while we see the rain dirty valley, see Brigadoon (the Scottish village that appears one day every hundred years, and helpfully rhymes with moon). Mike Scott sings: I saw the crescent; you saw the whole of the moon.
Some people see further and clearer than the rest of us. They may be polymaths – da Vinci, Franklin, Newton, or Goethe – or vast intelligences such as Aristotle or Tesla – or creative geniuses such as Shakespeare or Mozart; or they may be exceptional people who are not famous and, if we are very lucky, intersect with our own lives.
There is a view that if only we try hard enough, or understand ourselves well enough, or have enough growth-mindset, then we all have the potential to be exceptional. You can have, do, and be anything you want, says Joe Vitale (I presume the musician who worked with the Eagles).
I know that agreeing would make for a neater blog, but it’s simply not true. I want to write like Ray Bradbury or John Wyndham, but can’t. We cannot all be exceptional: that would be a contradiction in terms. Joe Vitale, for let us suppose it was the Joe Vitale, was and is a fine musician – he co-wrote a song that is on the Eagles’ album Hotel California, after all – but he is not Don Henley, the genius singer and songwriter of Eagles fame.
This week I have been reading reports and adding my own comment. Some boys do better than others for a variety of reasons, often the amount of time and effort they are willing to invest, but sometimes because of differences in natural ability.
Many boys, though, are being their best selves, both in character and work. To be your best self socially and academically is a magnificent thing; and boys who are their best selves are usually happy, which is a truly wonderful thing. Happy, confident people are also willing to admire (rather than resent) the exceptional few, and joy in the achievement of others leads to even greater contentment. I saw the crescent; you saw the whole of the moon – the words are of admiration, with no hint of jealousy.
However, being your best self is not the same as achieving perfection. We all make mistakes, sometimes miss the obvious, and have things to learn, and realizing this is an important step towards resilience and success.
At the point of breaking off to write this, I have just read and commented upon a set of reports. The boys are doing very well indeed, and perhaps there are geniuses among them, but not one is perfect. Indeed, a vital point of the Christmas story is that only that one baby was perfect. Please let’s not chase after a unicorn and be disappointed when we cannot be anything we want. But let us become better; let us be our best selves.