King's Worcester

28 April

The art of Boketto – Senior Assembly 27.4.21

This week’s whole school assembly began with an insightful Monitors Address from Deputy Head of School, Tom (Cr)who spoke about the importance of stopping and the art of Boketto. Mr Doodes then reflected on Tom’s talk in his address to the pupils where he reiterated the importance of following Toms advice the covid restrictions begin to ease and we start to move into a greater normality.

Tom Angell (Cr) Monitors Address

This morning I would like to talk to you about stopping. This may seem like a weird subject and one which perhaps does not warrant your time, but it is actually a crucially important part of life which is so easily overlooked.

In our day to day lives, we promote a state of constant business. We assume that the person actively ‘doing’ is inherently doing the right thing. The idea of just stopping is wholly counter-cultural. By stopping we assume it is ceasing productivity. We assume it is out of laziness and we often frown upon it.

But stopping is essential for both our mental and physical wellbeing. We need to recognise when we are doing too much of something, whether it is work, sport or anything else. This is something I certainly struggle with and as such probably means I am the least qualified person to be telling you this. However, I know I am not alone.

During the period of online learning, many of you will have sat at computers for hours, logging off one Teams call and straight onto the next, hardly moving from your desk or switching off. And those years with upcoming exams will have felt the pressure of constant work for a seemingly never-ending string of assessments.

It may feel like there is no opportunity to stop, but we should always try to make one.

Stopping for breaks can bring a huge number of benefits. They help you to relax and, although it seems counter-intuitive, they make you more productive. Breaks are essential to offer your brain a chance to recover.

But perhaps, the most powerful thing about stopping is the ability to simply clear your thoughts and temporarily escape from external stresses. It’s the one opportunity to switch off and take notice of the smaller things in life.

So, the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed with work or are rushing from one lesson to the next, just take some time to stop. Even if it’s as little as 30 seconds, I would encourage you to use this time to switch off. You’ll feel better for it and take notice of things you might otherwise miss.

Now, although I don’t have a quote to finish on, I do have a word. Boketto. Boketto is a Japanese word which means ‘the act of gazing or staring into the distance without thinking’.

So later today take a moment to stop and practice the art of Boketto.

Senior School Assembly – 27th April 2021

I read Tom’s address earlier this week and talked about it to Jess at home, as it somehow made me reflect on the madness of the last few months and the way in which we seem to be on an ever-enlarging escalator, with the ability to get off and stare into the distance becoming harder and harder.

Our society celebrates the act of charity. It encourages us to constantly give to others, to always think about the needs of the communities in which we live. It raises up service and duty. Our entire establishment is dependent upon it, as we witness only two weeks ago when the word duty was the overriding word used to describe the late Duke of Edinburgh.

But this at the moment is coming at a cost. The cost isn’t monetary, although will be so if we don’t act. The cost is emotionally and, subsequently, physically.

I spoke to Jess about it simply because the tempo of our lives have changed so dramatically now as a result of COVID that they are pretty unrecognisable. I’ll give an example. In the months prior to the lockdown, my weekly routine consisted of two early morning sessions in the swimming pool, two 10KM runs, and if there was time on a Sunday morning a bike ride. COVID put pay to this routine, not necessarily because we weren’t allowed to exercise, but because all of us had to make giving to others the mainstay of our lives.

For some reason, I didn’t put on weight but did find that the ability to withdraw myself from work, and the time that I spent when swimming or running alone that allowed me to clear my head and defragment my brain, simply wasn’t possible. Like many at the moment, I sometimes feel that the escalator isn’t stopping and sometimes only getting faster.

Tom’s words were simple ‘the most powerful thing about stopping is the ability to simply clear your thoughts and temporarily escape from external stresses. It’s the one opportunity to switch off and take notice of the smaller things in life.’

Over the coming weeks, the things that we valued will return to us. Social events will be allowed, the ability to meet and commune with each other will return, and two weeks ago swimming pools and gyms re-opened, so far not leading to a spike in cases due to the vaccine and social distancing. The highlight of my year as Headmaster was seeing pupils return again to sport this term, another area that we excel in, and something that has been enormously missed.

In the midst of this, Jess popped into my office yesterday and asked me to look at my ‘phone, where she’d secretly sneaked in an app that gives me access to a gym where she bought me a membership, instructing me to get back to my old routine where I can quickly ensure I’m back into my happy place, able to refresh myself so I can be the best father, husband and Headmaster possible. I think she secretly wants me to stop being grumpy when getting back home from work. Whether it was an act of selflessness or selfishness, I am still very grateful to her.

I, therefore, am taking Tom’s excellent advice. After all, Tom will one day be a leading Doctor, and perhaps could be the Chief Medical Officer advising us all as a nation. I hope to lead by example. I hope that as we move into a greater normality, my colleagues, and all the pupils, will do something to re-charge their batteries, to selfishly give themselves the headspace needed to be the best they can. After all, however much we give, or whatever level of duty we may aspire to, charity does begin at home.

To watch the end of spring term assembly, click here.

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