Senior Chapel: Happiness is a Choice

Middlesex School

In his recent Chapel talk, senior Miles Petrie discussed the “winter blues”: the tendency for energy to wane in the winter months and for monotony to set in to otherwise dynamic routines.  Describing Middlesex as a gold mine, Miles offered the advice to dig for gold in all that one does at the school.  Below are excerpts from his Chapel, beginning with his opening quote from Charles Dickens’ classic, A Tale of Two Cities.

“I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss. I see the lives for which I lay down my life, peaceful, useful, prosperous and happy. I see that I hold a sanctuary in their hearts, and in the hearts of their descendants, generations hence. It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.”

Don’t undervalue the things that you do here at Middlesex.  Enjoy your work, have some fun with solving that math problem, get a little crazy with your ideas in English.  Find your passions and experience your passions to the hilt.  I’m sometimes asked, what do you enjoy about theatre, Miles?  Under hot stage lights with sweat trickling down my face, I am at home.  There I encounter this inexplicable, wondrous duality of comfort and belonging, alongside an adrenalin that makes me fully alive, alert, and on edge.  When I’m highly tuned into my character and my castmates, I’m in my element.  

The next question often thrown my way: “Miles, what about running? Moving your legs for hours? That sounds like death.” For me, a rapid heart rate and dripping sweat means improvement.  The smell of rustic pine and feeling of damp socks means unforgettable adventures in Estabrook. Doing mile hill repeats on a rainy day means friendship and being part of a phenomenal, dedicated, and close-knit team.

If we’re talking gold mines, Middlesex is the motherlode.  There is so much for us to get out of this place. But we’re not going to get any gold if we keep skimming the surface. We need to go digging. I can’t just see theatre as pretending and I can’t just see running as simply moving legs.  I have to dig deeper to find out what my passions really mean to me and then take joy in what those passions have to offer me.  

And we have to make that step ourselves. Happiness is a choice.  The biggest source of gold for me at Middlesex has doubtlessly been taking joy in the relationships I have formed in my time here.  And the best way to enjoy these relationships to the fullest is to take time to appreciate and show gratitude them.    

Middlesex is a pretty incredible place.  I feel honored to be a part of this community of fun, kind, and impressive individuals.

“That bright shining world is just waiting to start. No anger or badness, just laughter and gladness, if only you follow your heart.” - from Urinetown: The Musical (performed by the Middlesex Theatre department in 2013)

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