Superintendent’s Message: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Colorful sky

Ah, spring, the time of year we all feel hope returning, and as educators, our energy starting to fail us. We have lived a lifetime of change in just a few months. Is it any wonder that we are all longing for a bit of a break (In Zoom sessions, mask-wearing, social distancing…)? We have just a bit further to go to reach the finish line of this school year. You can do it!

One of my favorite quotes is attributed to Socrates, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” It is a statement that causes me to think about the meaning of life and what constitutes happiness. In this time of economic and community transformation, it is worth taking a moment to ask, “What is my purpose and what gives my life meaning?” These questions have floated to the surface often during this time of COVID, but especially since the passing of Cherie Patterson, superintendent of Cosmopolis School district. Her sudden death, just as we were about to find our way out of COVID and as her students were fully engaging in school feels especially difficult to understand. That a friend and mentor with so much vitality and drive should not see the full fruits of her work is deeply troubling.

Each of us have a brief and flickering moment that is life, with no promises of tomorrow. This is not a thought that causes me to feel depressed, but rather presses me to wonder how to wring the most out of every glimmering second of each day. Failing to examine our lives might place us in a space of routine and safety, but I believe, failing to ponder life prevents us from growing and flourishing. Taking time to ask, ”What brings me joy?” and then finding space and time to do those things more seems to be part of examining life. In the same way reflecting on the gifts of life (friends, family, meaningful work…) can re-center us on what is most important.

The origins of the word examination are rooted in ideas about the depth of our thoughts (to ponder, to weigh, to consider). We have lost this meaning as an exam has come to mean a test of some sort. Maybe life is a test. But maybe each day gives us the opportunity to move toward a better and truer self. Maybe, just maybe, taking a moment this spring to ponder the past year and to consider the lessons we have learned is a path toward living a life worth living.

Wishing you the best possible conclusion to this school year,