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.
The sap drips feverishly into buckets around campus thanks to an uncharacteristically warm 60 degree sun pounding down on campus, while global stock markets plummet and COVID-19 fears begin to have a real impact on each of our lives. The uncertainty in the air is palpable, and we thought it quite appropriate to share a little good news!
In the last week the Covid-19 news has blown in on a variety of fronts - CDC, WHO, the New York Times, Johns Hopkins, BBC, NPR, NAIS - and sorting through the facts and their ramifications is a daunting task. The sources and webinars are ever burgeoning. The news shifts, the facts evolve. Cruise ships are stranded, cities are quarantined, face masks are hard to come by, hand sanitizer disappears in stores, the stock market whipsaws. China, Italy and Iran are distant landscapes, but the Upper Valley and Hanover are close. Emotions run high and life’s metronome seems to be ticktocking at a crazy and erratic beat. And while all of this is still happening “out there”, the shifting and the planning for “what ifs” has a significant impact on all of us.
How to retain perspective and not succumb to “tilt”?
If your mind is in anything like mine, it has spent the past few weeks spinning: the final weeks of Winter Term, final exams, final arts performances and games last weekend, rational (and irrational) fears surrounding the spread of COVID-19 and its impact on Proctor, Super Tuesday primaries, and so much more.
As an independent high school offering experiential learning both on and off campus, by necessity Proctor is unavoidably in the business of managing risk. Mostly we are comfortable with that. Knowing that students are going to be riding out gales in the Atlantic on Ocean Classroom, clattering through a slalom course at the Proctor Ski Area, navigating solos on Mountain Classroom, learning how to use plasma cutters in the metal shop is all in our comfort zone. It’s what we do in so many arenas at Proctor. And our students find the landscape of challenge rich with life growth opportunities. We take managing this risk seriously. We recognize, however, that in the midst of these daily risks, there are moments when our risk profile amplifies. It is during these moments when we must remain agile, shift course if necessary, and remain vigilant to the external factors impacting our internal offerings.
The very best moments in our lives are rarely those we spend alone. They are those we share with others, often small groups of friends or teammates. Moments that defy logic and surpass expected reality. Moments seared in our memory as a perfect confluence of internal and external factors leading to a magical experience. We cannot predict when they will happen, nor can we describe why. We simply know when they do.