A glimpse of the future …

A glimpse into the future …

I’ve glimpsed the future, or, perhaps more accurately, I glimpsed my future.

And it wasn’t a happy sight …

October half-term, a chance to catch your breath after the excitement of the start of a new year begins to wane, but the pace doesn’t. A chance to ask: “Where did the time go? How did we get here?” On one hand, it seems like only a moment ago term began, but on the other those long lazy days of the summer holidays seem a lifetime ago.

Needing a mental detox after so many weeks in the classroom, on the first Monday of half term, I headed for the peace and tranquillity of a beautiful National Trust park. This being in a different county from mine, most local schools were still in session, and I ambled the grounds, and took in the vista, far from the madding-crowd, with barely another soul – and certainly very few children – to be seen. The stresses and strains of the September and October ebbed away, falling like the leaves from the trees …

Our circular perambulation finished at around midday, and my wife and I decided we would have a spot of lunch, before heading home. It was here that I had a glimpse of my future, and I’m not sure I liked what I saw.

Entering the cafeteria, and having chosen my feast, my wife stayed in the queue, whilst I headed into the dining area to secure us somewhere to sit. The first room was full (a good sign, I thought, plenty of customers must mean the food is good (and it was)) and I headed through into a second eating area and bagged myself the only table left. So far, so good.

It was good to sit down after my morning’s walk, and I enjoyed the peace as I contemplated my meal to come. After a few minutes, something began to nibble away at the back of my mind. I couldn’t place it, but something didn’t feel right. Perhaps it was just pangs of hunger – what was keeping my wife, the queue wasn’t that long was it? My sense of unease and uncertainty began to grow, something wasn’t quite right, but what? And before I could arrive at an answer my wife – and lunch – arrived, and, once again, all was well with the world.

Or was it?

As I ate my stew and potatoes, something was eating away at me. And then it dawned on me.

It was just so quiet. Some might say peaceful, but I would say quiet. The room was full, but barely a word was spoken. I looked around at my fellow dinners. Most, like me, had grey hair – or none at all, most, like me, were “of an age” – in fact most were a few (or 10+) my senior, and most, unlike me, were enjoying a quiet, peaceful dinning experience.

And that’s when it dawned on me, that’s when I knew what my niggling doubt was. That’s when I realised I had glimpsed my future, and I wasn’t so keen on it.

Of course, who would – who could – be out and about on a midday-Monday in late October? The retired, and I thought that this could be me in five or ten years time. I’ve been spending an increasing amount of time pouring over pension statement, plotting my way out of the classroom, but sat eating that wonderful lunch, in a beautiful environment, surrounded by happy, contented people mad me think: “perhaps not yet.”

Although in need of my half-term break, in that moment I realised that I still love the hub-bub and vibrancy of my school community, the vitality and life to be found in my school canteen. Yes, students can be noisy, yes, they can be loud, yes they can get things wrong, and yes they can challenge and be challenging, but that excitement, that hope, that joie de vivre that they bring can be, and is, life affirming, and I’m not ready to forsake that just yet.

My lunch was delicious, but even more memorable was the realisation that whilst I might give them knowledge, experience, wise-counsel, the young people in my school give me an energy that keeps me wanting to go back to the classroom everyday.

I still pour over my pension plan, and still plot my days beyond the school gates, but having glimpsed my future, I’m happy to put those plans on hold for a little longer.

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