To quote Charlie Mackesy; "Asking for help is not giving up, it is refusing to give up".

I was recently given a copy of a beautiful book by Charlie Mackesy: The Boy, the mole, the fox and the Horse. (Penguin, 2019). It consists of a series of drawings, reflections and observations about life, and it seems particularly pertinent in this time of Coronavirus. It is a lovely gift. What makes the book particularly beautiful is that it is driven by a vibrant belief in kindness, and a deep faith in the good within each of us. Mackesy recognises that life can be difficult, but argues that love gives us the comfort we need. His book led me to reflect on life in Melbourne during lockdown and what we have learned. Here are some of the lessons I have learned, as influenced by Mackesy:

  • Things happen in life that we don’t like, and they are often beyond our control, but it’s not personal. The Coronavirus is not deliberately causing havoc to make my life difficult. It just follows its nature and it has no concern about how that impacts on me. We need to resist feeling as if unwelcomed events are a personal affront.
  • We cannot always control what happens – but we can control our responses. I am normally someone who likes to plan things carefully and to be prepared for the week and term ahead. The events of this year have taught me that sometimes I just need to respond and pivot quickly to face new circumstances. I can get angry at the situation, or seek someone to blame, or I can get on with things and make the most of it. We have all found ourselves in unpredictable times, facing restrictions and limitations, but how we respond to these things is completely our choice.
  • Time in lockdown is not lost – it is just spent differently to how we thought we would spend it. This time is not wasted – it presents us all with opportunities to do things we might otherwise never have done. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow, but we can live this day as fully as we can.
  • Being together in lockdown is sometimes difficult – but it is also the most important thing. And we don’t need to always be amusing, saying clever, witty or profound things; sometimes just sitting together in silence is enough.
  • Lots of things happen at School and at work which are not learning or working. These things are among the things I miss the most.
  • Technology can make things possible – but there is such a thing as too much technology.
  • To quote Charlie Mackesy: “Asking for help is not giving up – it is refusing to give up.” Asking for help takes courage, just as sometimes simply getting up in the morning and carrying on with the day is an act of great courage.
  • The resilience and persistence of young people in the face of challenge is extraordinary and must never be underestimated.
  • Our teachers and support staff are people of great skill and resourcefulness. They have had to reinvent how they work this year and they have done it incredibly well. And they are still learning.
  • Our community is strong, and we find ways to connect and support each other even when we are physically distant.
  • Living through these times is something we will always share.

Just like the Spanish Inquisition, no one expected the Coronavirus, but here it is, and we have to learn to live with it, as we mourn those who have died fighting it.

At the time of writing, we still have a long way to go. Lockdown in Melbourne will continue until case numbers become numerically insignificant. Until we have a safe vaccine, there is always the chance that cases within the community will surge again. Despair is not an option. We need to re-dedicate ourselves each day to living our best possible lives, no matter what comes. This edition of Spectemur is filled with students and staff doing just that. We can learn, we can work, we can love and support each other, and, when it is safe, we will return to School with an enhanced appreciation of each other and all the amazing things we can do when we are together.

Dr Paul Hicks 


To read the latest edition of Spectemur, click here.