Can you sense it yet: the slow unfurling of life all around? It feels good, doesn’t it? Satisfying in the way only something you have waited for feels. By now, many of us have met with family members, perhaps for the first time in months. It may feel the same as it always did: gentle, easy, warm. And yet it may somehow also feel different. Perhaps we have enjoyed our first hair appointment. Or met with friends in a pub garden. Ways of trying to insert ourselves back into a life we once knew.

But what if the point of all this upending change is to offer us a bend in the paths we’ve all, until now, unquestionably taken? What if 2020 was the metaphoric breakup with our previous lives that we needed to gain clarity on what we really want?

Over the past few months, we have witnessed numerous people – friends, colleagues – break free from lives they once lived. The high flyers who have thrown glittering careers to the wind in search of something simpler and more sustainable. Individuals who have ended age-old relationships which, on closer examination, appeared bound together by nothing more than a joint mortgage and a shared past. There are those who have made smaller adjustments too: London dwellers who have fled to rural shires, pet phobics who have become dog lovers, stress bunnies who have transformed into meditative yogis. 

It feels very similar to advice offered to me by a University professor many moons ago: question your direction of travel every few years, for we are seldom the same person for our entire lives. That takes courage, of course, for in confronting where we have been, we may find we have made some rogue turns along the way. The good news about acknowledging this: it’s never too late to change your course. For some of us, however, adjusting our direction of travel may not involve any big deviations, but rather smaller, almost-imperceptible alterations. A new way of dressing, a new outlook, a changed attitude, or mindset.

During morning assemblies in our Junior School, we have been reflecting upon what we would like our new normal to feel like. Which aspects of our pandemic life we would like to retain. For many of us, this includes spending more time with our family each day – be that in sharing our evening meal together or taking a daily walk. For some, it has been integrating technology into ways we connect with those further away – FaceTiming grandparents, Zooming friends overseas. And for many of us, it has been to reconnect with the simple pleasures gained from devouring a book in a single sitting, taking the time to look out for our neighbours or giving back to society through volunteering in our local community. 

Above all, we look to our future with the experience of toughing it out, sticking with it for the ride and knowing that the biggest gift that change can offer us is the opportunity to renew.

Nisha Kaura, Head of The Abbey Junior School