Seize The Moment

19th January 2021
BY Sterling Blakey, Sen Co Prae

Whilst in March 2020, we may have been starry-eyed when faced with a supposedly short, unscheduled break, that honeymoon period is long gone. In these strange times when we find ourselves physically and socially less active, it seems to be our morale and mental wellness that carries the burden. Reminded of a line from my Recita [the school's recitation competition] choice, it is the ‘circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel’ of Noel Harrison’s ‘Windmills of Your Mind’ that we are now trying to navigate.

To counteract uninspiring gaps in my normally packed schedule at school, I have found it of immeasurable help for my own mental health to immerse myself in something new. Placed under the physical constraints of lockdown and even a bout of COVID last August, narrowing in on a new intellectual pursuit has kept me alive to possibilities. I have enjoyed exploring in more depth German literature, films and philosophy, with a wealth of material available from the internet and from my dons. Drawing on the intellectual curiosity that Winchester has imbued in me, I do feel as though I am maturing, despite the lack of intellectual stimuli and camaraderie we would normally have during term-time, and which we so miss.

Most crucial to the preservation of my sanity, however, has been appreciating my external surroundings to their fullest. Allotting a portion of each day to exercise and the discovery of the environment around me has been a mental and physical relief, as well as an assurance that I am neither going to seed nor letting the days and weeks drift aimlessly past with glazed eyes. Not being occupied is most alien to me, as I am sure it is for many others in our community; between lessons, toytime and sport, a break would never have gone unappreciated. As I explored my local area on foot or bike during the immensely successful Mallory Challenge last lockdown, I was reminded of the fact that,with a specific goal in mind, it is truly staggering what Wykehamists, both as a collective and individually, can achieve. Last summer we covered the distance to Everest from Winchester in just 16 days. It has inspired us to roll out some new challenges and inter-house competitions over these next few weeks.

I would therefore wholeheartedly encourage my fellow pupils to calibrate their goals, both personal and academic, as it is with that laser-like focus that we will continue to prosper, no matter the uncertainties. Camus reflected in the closing chapters of La Peste (1947), that "Once the faintest stirring of hope became possible, the dominion of the plague was ended." It would seem that we have reached that point so we should seize the moment.


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