It was St Augustine who spoke of our hearts being restless. Adam Smith, the father of economics, put it in different terms: Human wants are infinite but resources are scarce.
It is our human nature which leads us to seek change and to look for something new. As I embark upon my last term at Stoke I feel both excitement about the future but also a little regret too that I am doing many things for the last time.
Above all things, time is scarce. It runs out and so we have to seize every day and make it good.
I saw a film with my family over the summer. It is an old film so I hope I am not spoiling the plot for anyone. It is called About Time, starring Bill Nighy. The message of the film is to see the value in the small things. To take joy in the little, incidental moments that occur in busy and stressful days. To be on the lookout for happiness in the small things.
We went on a trip on Saturday with our full boarders to Thorpeness, on the coast. I remember when I first arrived at Stoke Mr and Mrs Burchell recommended it as a fun day out for the family and I am glad finally to have got there.
We had a great time learning to row boats, some doing it for the first time. It was very beautiful and peaceful paddling round the little islands. One swan was very friendly and paddled right up to our boat. Maria and Wendy, two of our new girls, fed it, which was clearly what it wanted. However, that then encouraged an armada of other swans to bear down upon us, all wanting to share the same baguette.
There was a moment went I wondered if I was going to have to explain to their parents that their beloved daughters had been pecked by greedy water fowl but fortunately the birds were remarkably polite, or perhaps cautious, and didn’t lean into the boat and we got away unscathed.
We then headed down to the beach. We didn’t do much. Just watched the waves, Alice tried to teach me how to write her name in Chinese on the sand, and we threw flat stones into the waves to make them skim.
The whole day was a series of lovely small moments and it reminded me that all children and young adults are formed by the sum total of their growing up experiences. Every day of happy, shared moments strengthens within them the instinct for happiness in adulthood too. It was a privilege to be a part of that on Saturday and to see how much our boarding team does for our young people.