Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New years and first days

This is the fifth in a series of articles dedicated to school-going kids, written for the GUYS AND GIRLS section of Ceylon Today.

So it's a new year. That means a new term. New classes, friends, teachers, and subjects. But not everything's new. Old friends remain. So do old teachers. And old subjects. They remain at school and in your mind. Always. And it's not just what you learn in class, mind you. Every year brings with it fresh encounters. That's life. Life ambles along with you.

You need to catch up. You need to learn the new. And remember the old.

That's where we go wrong. We think about the present. We think about it so much that we forget what has gone by. All the way. It's not that we tend to forget. It's just that we want to forget. The mind, after all, can take only that much. If we were to think and reflect on the past all the time, there would be too many things occupying your mind, wouldn't it?

Let's face it. We can't handle everything. We need to separate present from past. The coming year's going to bring new things. In this busy world, that's the only thing we can do. Even at school, we are made to do this. The reason isn't hard to find. We need to be able to adapt ourselves, to change the old to the new and (as the saying goes) move with the crowd.

It's the same thing with friendships. You'll meet people to talk to. Some will like you and take to you, others won't. That's life. School-life. The adjustment period will be long. It won't be easy. But if you keep to yourself, assess what's new for what it is, and take to it without any pressure, you'll adapt. Otherwise, you'll just keep clinging to what's passed by. Now nostalgia is good. Thinking back, taking stock of what went by in order to think about what's to come, is good. But thinking back purely because you can't handle the present isn't going to be of much use.

At the same time, though, forgetting the past isn't going to help either. What you learn this year at school will be added to what you learnt last year. Those you befriend this year will be added to those you befriended in the years gone by. So yes, looking forward to the new is fun. But that doesn't (and shouldn't) mean forgetting the past.

Some of you may begin school this year. Some of you may even begin the year and term at a new school. That means you'll have to change. Big time. For some, this is easy. For others, it's not.

I don't remember my first day at school. Few of us do. But I remember being sad. It's a totally new experience, after all. We're talking about five years of staying at home and then suddenly coming to this new place we've never seen before. That's tough. It's also tough when you've got to get used to it all. The first days, therefore, aren't easy. They never are. But after some time, and if you're flexible enough, you'll learn to adapt quickly. And when you do, you'll spend the rest of those 13 years relishing everything you do and everyone you meet.

For those of you who'll begin the year at a new school or home, it'll be tougher. That's natural enough. You've spent time with an entire community, after all. When you're relocated to a new community, school (or even home), it's never going to be the same. It's not just about meeting new people. It's about meeting people and getting used to new things while remembering what once was. That's hard. Brings back memory. Harsh memory. Harsh enough to make you sad. But not all the time.

So it's a new year. There are lots to look forward to. Lots to learn, lots to take to and take to heart. Yes, they are all fun to learn. And to get used to.

There'll be new things this year. There'll be old things that'll come by once in a while. There'll also be things from last year that'll come back to you, asking you to remember, to make what you learn this year easier to grasp. If we can take this to heart, if we can remember that school-life is all about taking to the new and never forgetting the old, all will be well. If not, that adjustment period I talked about earlier will be long. Too long. And let's admit it: that's not what we want, is it?

Written for: Ceylon Today GUYS AND GIRLS, January 4 2015