Sometimes, when my day gets hard or overwhelming, I make myself stop—and take a deep breath. I try to tune in to the moment, right now, and see the gifts around me. There are some times during the day when this is a good practice, and there are also certain times of the year when it is. This is one of them.
There are many things at Middlebury that give me comfort and grace. I’ve been able to gather a list of favorite experiences and observations that make me feel optimistic and hopeful. I love the physical beauty of this place, of course, but the people, too, have inspired me. I’ve witnessed many things that lift my spirits: intellectual risk-taking, dedicated problem solving, and acts of kindness and community.
I’ve seen very busy people stop in their tracks to help newcomers find their way. And time and again, I’ve heard new students comment on how surprised they are when strangers “smile” at them as they pass or when cars stop so they can cross the street. I’ve been heartened by the thoughtful and respectful discussions on campus aimed at solving complex problems and energized by the stellar work students, faculty, and staff produce.
Whether it’s students helping Vermonters after Hurricane Irene, community members welcoming international students into their families, or professors and staff colleagues taking their personal time to mentor students, I count these as moments to be grateful. They remind me to bring my best self to this place—to everything I do—and to help others do the same.
The physicist Paul Dirac penned an axiom that used to seem like an inexplicable riddle: “Pick a flower on Earth and you move the farthest star.” My experience at Middlebury has taught me what he meant. We are more interconnected than ever before in history, and our energy, whether positive or negative, reverberates everywhere. Dirac’s message now seems clear: We each have the power within us to transform.
Wishing you a wonderful, restful Thanksgiving break.