When I turned fifteen, more than half a lifetime ago, I went to boarding school. For three years I was handed a superb education in an unparalleled environment and made friends who have stuck by me through the years.
But for three years I seethed…and my diary is peppered with the disdainful chic of teenage angst. Unfortunately, after I left school I carried my attitude with me, and over the years retained a rather bitter view of my school experience. All of this of course was detritus from those chips I had carved on my shoulders during my high school years: the sense of unworthiness, the yearning — yet seeming inability – to fit in, the occasional shame and humiliation which comes with growing up…boys.
On a whim, I decided to return to my’ school last month for the first time in seventeen years. I arranged to meet my long lost English teacher, the man who roused my passion in English literature, and one whom I had always felt that I had failed, when I got suspended days before my Oxford interview.
A flood of emotion rushed at me when I first hugged him and his wife. Memories, no longer twisted, but sharp and happy came flooding back at me. He was genuinely happy to see me and didn’t remember a thing about my suspension! Over the course of the next two days as I chanced to bump into another old teacher who,incredibly, named me on sight, and met up with old friends, I began to shed the baggage which I had been carting around all those years.
Before I left, I stood in the school parking lot, absorbing the panoramic views. I was left breathless; all I could think was that I had never seen this view before. For three years I woke up to one of the most heart stopping views in the world, yet I never saw it. I was too busy dealing with my hormones; I was too busy looking for and trying to find myself.
The first thing I did when I got home was to apologise to my parents for the two decades of ingratitude. I have also decided, for the first time, to read my childhood diaries. I expect to learn a lot, not just about who I was, but surely who I am. Because I have a sneaking suspicion that I will find that I am who I am, to a great extent, because of that school. And on the most part, that is not a bad thing.
Whether it is to wear somebody else’s shoes, to eye things from someone else’s point of view, or as in my case, to see it from my own point of view, but from the perspective of another time, it is incredible how one’s focus can shift. And how intriguingly enlightened one can become.
So, this month, let’s take a new perspective and look at the world through the eyes of a new generation as well as see what achievements and problems the generation is facing. After all, they are going to be the ones who will shape future policies, deal with issues which will affect US in our old age such as global warming and world security. They will be the ones writing our pension checks. They will be our future leaders.
Citylife this month:
James Austin Farrell has focused on the young, whether they are the disenchanted young who have landed in trouble and are, by varying degrees, being rehabilitated at the Juvenile Correctional Facility in Mae Rim, or the talented young, the bright stars of the future, lurking in every school room. Our street talk this month will also be dedicated to the voice of children. Other articles include Andrew Bond’s look at the world famous Siamese Twins and Kelty Moser gives US a fresh report straight from the Immigration Offices.
Don’t forget to join us at the Citylife garden party on November 30th! See Events and Entertainment pages for details.