I woke early this morning in the midst of the most vivid dream. A mentor of mine went out of his way to help me, making extraordinary personal sacrifices to reunite me with my family. It was one of those dreams where you feel like you are having real conversations, can physically feel yourself walking, touching, navigating your surroundings. I have not dreamed much the last two weeks. My mind has been full, anxiety high, to-do list long. But last night’s dream provided a wave of calm in what otherwise has been a stormy few weeks. I started the day with new hope.
A window into the depths of our subconscious, dreams have always fascinated humans. A potential deeper meaning of our dreams may never be fully understood, and instead challenges us to look beyond the immediately obvious. During times of uncertainty and stress it feels especially important to try and unpack the meaning of our dreams, to listen carefully to the inaudible messages we aren't as willing to hear.
We are living in a time of pause. The blanket of fresh snow left Monday night remains untouched around campus. The dreams we had for our lives put on hold. Our students (and parents, faculty, and staff) had an expectation of what this spring would look like: Project Period, Spring Formal, Shrek as the spring musical, athletic seasons, classes, swimming in the Blackwater. Through virtual advisory Webex conversations with our advisees this week we have felt their sadness over what could have been. The feelings are especially raw for our seniors and their families as they struggle to come to terms with a very abnormal final spring at Proctor.
Perhaps the most dangerous emotional risk we take in our lives is to marry our happiness to expectations, to believe we are entitled to a vision of what “should be”. We all struggle with this. We have expectations, often never verbalized, about what the family dinner should look like, the holiday gathering, the peaceful bedtime routine. And when reality falls short of expectations, we feel as though we have either failed or experienced an injustice.
But maybe deeper lessons lie just under the surface for us to unearth during this season of shattered expectations. Maybe we needed a recalibration as a human community, a mandated slow down that prioritized families, the needs of our neighbors, and our planet.
This time of pause will not last forever. We will be together again as a school community. Fields will be full, the dining hall abuzz, off-campus programs sharing posts from around the globe. We are all anxious for normalcy to return. To run out into the streets and shout with joy that our disconnect has ended. But maybe it's not that we are disconnected right now, but rather we are more connected than ever to that which needs our attention. Use this gift of time to reset, to mourn what is lost without sacrificing the “what could be”. Now, more than ever, we must be willing to dream.