Superintendent’s Corner: The Path Forward

Path in a park

Contributed by Dr. Dana Anderson, Superintendent, Capital Region ESD 113

It has been a long and hard road these past 2 years. When the COVID pandemic hit and we went into lock-down in March 2020 I thought, “Well this will end by spring.” Boy was I wrong! Since then we have learned how to ‘pivot’ from one reality to the next. We have stopped saying, “New normal” as if the new reality was going to last for an extended time. Our next normal is more temporal, and we find ourselves learning, growing, and becoming more adaptable than we ever imagined.

And yet…I long for some stability and normalcy. I am tired of what feels like an endless battle and unending conflict between views of what is ‘right’ or ‘true’. I do not think it is a stretch to say that many have been suffering, and that the depth of that suffering is greater and shared by more of us than in most of our lives. Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) taught that the source of suffering is grounded in three ‘cravings’ (or more generally expectations). One of these is the longing for something to end or to let go of something that is causing pain.

It is clear we are all at this point in the COVID journey. We all want it to end. We want to stop wearing masks, end social distancing, find connections again and feel ‘normal.’ All of these are mostly out of our control. Sure, we can just stop complying, but that might not end the risk to ourselves or others. We could join a movement that is fighting to make these things real. But in the end, the path forward may be to also apply some of our lived and learned experiences. If we were to slow down and recognize how we are doing (mindfulness), explore alignment between our intentions and actions (ethics), and focus on learning from experience (wisdom) we can narrow the gap between our expectations and lived experience.

While we cannot always influence our circumstances, we can work to manage our expectations. Focusing on achieving something (ending masking for example) may give us temporary relief from the current normal’s influence on our lives. Changing the way we experience life and learning how to see the best in each moment can give us freedom to live life fully regardless of our circumstances. I am not ready to thank COVID for helping me become a better person, but I sure hope one day I can look back and say, “I learned how to live better as a result of surviving COVID.”

Be well and be safe,