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Roland Martin - Issue #69

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It's been a while...
 

Roland Martin

September 13 · Issue #69 · View online
Headmaster - City of London Freemen's school; Chief Officer - City of London; Chair - Society of Heads - '...write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing' Benjamin Franklin

It’s been a while…

To blog or not to blog
It seems a little silly to write if there’s little to say… write things worth reading, is the maxim under which I labour after all…
But I realise it’s been a while so thought I should share the start of term assembly that I greeted our senior pupils with last week. With thanks to Janice Ross who sowed an idea for me to build upon…
Alexander Hamilton
My Shot || Animatic/Animation - YouTube
As you came in this morning, you were exposed to the third song from the musical Hamilton which has been a runaway success on Broadway and the West End. The song is called My Shot. I confess to not having seen it yet as tickets are not the easiest of things to come by but do have some booked for the future. However, I have heard the soundtrack a few times over the summer and this song provides a really important and strong message to the narrative. At this early point in the play, a young, scrappy and hungry Alexander Hamilton impresses several other young revolutionaries who have gone down in the annals of US history – Lafayette, Mulligan, Laurens and Burr – with his command of rhetoric, his ambitions for the future both for himself and his country and his desire to leave a legacy behind him that will be long-lasting and the play goes on to tell his story, one of astonishing ambition against the odds of coming from nothing. Hamilton is determined not to waste any opportunity he has – his ‘shot’ – and the essence of the song becomes a mantra by which he lives. Not a massive spoiler alert but Hamilton and Burr ended up being Founding Fathers of the United States, Hamilton one of the most important of them.
Although the overarching story and characterisation in Hamilton are generally true, like most biopics that are put on stage or screen, there are plenty of inaccuracies in the musical, probably the biggest of which is the adulation that the central character – one whom historically was a brazen elitist who liked big banks, mistrusted the masses and at one point called for a monarchic presidency and a Senate that served for life – has received as a result of the musical. However, that strong central message of giving everything your best and not wanting to forgo an opportunity is a good one for us to reflect upon at the start of the school year and the reappraisal of an historical figure – albeit inaccurately – has certainly made its mark.

Yesterday is history...
I wonder what you think of when you hear the word ‘history’? Possibly, the subject that you do or have studied; events in the distant past or historical eras? Perhaps a narrative of events, chronicles or stories of things that happened in the past? However, history is more than just events that happened a long time ago. History is any time that has come before today.
Each of us here has a history, starting from the moment of our birth, or perhaps even from the moment of conception as suggested in the Eighteenth Century Novel, The Life and Times of Mr Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, perhaps even before that. We could each make a timeline of our lives that might feature events such as starting school, the birth of siblings, a special holiday, illness, examinations and many other defining and important moments.
There is a well-known saying – a bit of a corny one - that goes: “yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called ‘the present’.” Although well known, it is not certain who first said it and it has been attributed to several people including Eleanor Roosevelt and the artist Bil Keane. It certainly crops up in Kung Fu Panda. Although a bit corny, like a lot of corny things, there is a decent amount of truth in the saying.
Yesterday is now history for each one of us. How much can we remember about yesterday, or the day before or our summer holidays? Unless we have experienced a momentous event, either in our own lives or in the life of the nation, probably little will be remembered of each individual day that we live. Have you even thought how many days you have lived?
18 at weekend 6574 days
17 at weekend 6209 days
16 at weekend 5844 days
15 at weekend 5479 days
14 at weekend 5113 days
That’s a lot of days and a lot of memories, isn’t it? It is also a lot of time for opportunity and a lot of history.
I was pretty horrified to work out, incidentally, that I have managed 17 351 days so far…
But if that is history, what about our tomorrows?
Who here knows what the future will hold for them? Clearly no one has absolute surety on that. We may have hopes and dreams for the future, but things can happen that completely change those aspirations. We might not do as well in a subject as we had expected; our family might have to move home or our friendship group might change; we might have to face an illness or an injury or some other significant challenge. In short, nothing is certain. None of us knows what our future will hold. The future is a mystery.
What about today? The present?
Each of us woke this morning to a new day, one that we have not lived before. Today, nothing is exactly the same as it was on previous days. It might seem to be the same: we got out of bed grumpy as usual; breakfast was possibly the same; and many of us will have followed pretty much the same routines that we have followed the same routines that we have followed countless times before.
However, nothing in nature is the same. The air that we breathe will be different from the air we have breathed before; the water that we drink will be different; and the sky, the clouds.
And our experiences will all be different, too. We will face new challenges, have new opportunities and learn new lessons
Dead Poets...
Dead Poets Society is a film that was released in 1989. It tells the story of an English teacher, played by the late Robin Williams, who inspires his students through his teaching of poetry. His methods are unorthodox and amusing, but the students respond to his enthusiasm and learn important lessons about literature and about life. He takes them out of the classroom for work and encourages them to focus on the idea of carpe diem. This is a Latin phrase that means ‘seize the day’ and it is a good mantra by which to live. Here is a clip…
"Carpe diem. Seize the day." - Dead Poets Society - YouTube
So, carpe diem. Seize the day.
Seize the day like My Shot means taking hold of any opportunities that come our way and making the most of every situation in which we find ourselves. It is about living life to the full.
So, as you reflect this morning, ask yourself, ‘How will I greet this day?’
‘How will I approach the week ahead?’
‘What am I going to do with the five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes that will measure the year ahead…?’


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