Remember to breathe

Will UVM’s struggles ruin the educational experience of our institution? What will the global economic downturn mean for students who will soon graduate and for faculty who will be laid off? What do our country’s troubles overseas mean for its citizens? These are all questions with no clear answer and which all seem, for the time being, to be pointing in the wrong direction, but they must be faced one way or another – they are the inescapable realities of our world.Many of us turn, naturally and immediately, to the technicalities of these questions – the dollar and cents figures, the numbers averages and measurable trends within all of these problems. But perhaps our energies are wasted when we hastily break down problems in this way.This type of analysis does little in the way of offering peace of mind to the worried, and it may be peace of mind that is necessary to get a clear picture of the events unfolding.We could say “we all need to get to work” – to roll up our sleeves and get down to business. This is a time for action, is it not?But where should we work and how? Such advice offers little in that regard.Lacking clear answers, we can only say this: we all need to be very careful about how we tackle these decisions.This isn’t to say that we need to incorporate every point of view into our analyses of the various crises that pop up, but, long before we even reach that stage, and long before we actually take action, we need to take stock of our own motivations and try to figure out what, exactly, our goals are. This is, of course, very simple advice, but it seems to have been heeded infrequently as of late. Indeed, it may be difficult advice to follow – we are asking that we try to assume new attitudes towards our environment. Attitudes are a difficult thing to change because, when we find ourselves before a looming obstacle, simply overcoming that obstacle tends to become the focus of all our intentions and our attitudes often seem a step removed from that process. But, if we aren’t careful to contain and order our intentions before we act, we find ourselves liable to overlook important things or, worse, act without a clear direction. We run the risk of forgetting why it is, exactly, we are climbing that wall and what condition we want to be in when we get to the other side. If this sounds vague, it is – but that’s the point. The world isn’t always best viewed in fine-grained detail and it isn’t always best approached in a sprint. Sometimes, if we seek a moment of calm composure, we find that the best paths reveal themselves. Sometimes it is best to take more care to make sure that we don’t over-analyze our problems, than it is to immediately take to our feet.