It is perhaps fitting that this past week has me thinking about the figurative ‘journey of life and adventure’ as I have been on a literal journey from St. Clement’s to Louisenlund School in Guby, Germany for the annual Round Square International Conference, and then on to Ottawa for our Canadian Accredited Independent Schools Heads’ and Chairs annual conference.
The Round Square International Conference at Louisenlund welcomed over five hundred delegates from over fifty schools from around the world. It’s theme this year was ‘It’s the Journey that Makes Us.’ This was, indeed, a fitting theme as Round Square schools’ students and staff journeyed from far and wide, took part in a variety challenging activities, and heard from speakers who stretched their thinking.
The first keynote speaker, Ben Saunders, is a leading polar explorer who led the Scott Expedition, and has completed a round trip from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole and back. Saunders spoke about his experience but, perhaps more importantly, about the importance of being present during each moment as opposed to aiming solely for completion. He described the moment, after four months of dealing with unbearable conditions and remarkable physical and mental challenges, when he completed his trek. Saunders explained to the audience that he had been planning and working towards the completion for a very long time and expected to feel a remarkable sense of elation and joy at the end. Instead, he shared that the finish was uneventful in many ways, and perhaps even momentarily disappointing. Only after some time had passed and he was recovering from the challenge did he realize it was all of the remarkable moments along the way that had really been the beauty of the trip.
Enjoying each moment is increasingly important as the pace of life quickens. For each of us, we aspire to achieve various things along the way- whether it is a particular grade, an acceptance to a school, a job or an award. Aspiring to something and setting goals to work toward are very important practices as they provide us with focus and purpose. Having said that, both the Round Square conference theme and Mr. Saunders reminded me that it is important to remember that the moments along the way to achieving our goals are the ones that ‘make us.’ Not only that, our journeys are not races and thus embracing the significant moments- both challenging and positive- are truly what makes them worthwhile.
It really is the journey that makes us.