“Storms make oaks take deeper root”

There will be times in all our lives when things get difficult. This is an inevitable part of being human. Over the past few years we have all faced huge challenges: the pandemic; political and economic turmoil; the cost of living; war in Ukraine. We all face challenges ahead: the climate crisis; the role of technology in society; overcoming social inequality.

None of these things are easy. I have often spoken to our students about taking on challenges, about pushing yourself. I have said – countless times! – “when you’re struggling, you’re learning.” It’s important that we, as adults, practise what we preach.

I often rely on the wisdom of others to illustrate these ideas. One of my favourite quotes, usually attributed to Thomas Edison, is: “our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to try just one more time.” And, after all, he should know – he invented the lightbulb!

Another inspirational figure is President John F. Kennedy. In 1962, announcing the intention to put a man on the moon, Kennedy spoke about taking on a difficult task precisely because it was challenging: “we choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” He would not live to see the realisation of this vision, but his ambition led to Neil Armstrong setting foot on another world in July 1969.

Over this past month, I have also taken comfort in the words of the great Maya Angelou, who said: “you may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” There is great wisdom here. Whilst much that happens around us – and, in some cases, to us – is beyond our control, we are in charge of the way that we respond. We can let ourselves be ground down by the challenges, or we can rise to them. It’s up to us. And I choose to rise.

Finally, a colleague shared some new words of wisdom with me recently. Well, they are new to me, but the words themselves are old: their author, George Herbert, lived 1593-1633:

Storms make oaks take deeper root

George Herbert, 1593-1633

These are the words that I have looked to throughout the past months. When the storm rages, we will not be uprooted. The turmoil around us will make us more resilient, more determined. And, when the storm clears and the sun shines in a clear blue sky, we will be stronger for having weathered it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s