Last week’s blog shared our community’s work around defining our shared values. The email I sent out announcing the blog mentioned the current amount of stress in our system and the importance of our shared values as we move forward. Over the past week, I sensed an increase in stress that culminated with a statement in Friday’s Press Republican. There was a sentence in an article that said, “University officials should know what they are cutting by April 1.”

Data are being gathered, information is being discussed, but decisions have not been made yet. The complexity of the system does not allow for quick, easy decisions; yet, we want to know. The space in time that exists between this moment and the point of knowing can be filled in many ways. One common way is to fill the space with rumors and hypothesize about what might happen. This, of course, is not beneficial and only creates anxiety.

In Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now, anxiety is discussed in the context of fear. He said, “The psychological condition of fear is divorced from any concrete and true immediate danger. It comes in many forms: unease, worry, anxiety, nervousness, tension, dread, phobia, and so on. This kind of psychological fear is always of something that might happen, not of something that is happening now” (p. 35). The key here is the present moment. He went on to say, “Life is now. There was never a time when your life was not now, nor will there ever be. Nothing ever happened in the past; it happened in the Now. Nothing will ever happen in the future; it will happen in the Now” (p. 41).

Eckhart Tolle challenges us to be fully present in the current moment. In theory, this sounds easy, but in practice it is difficult. Being fully present means ignoring rumors and quieting thoughts that try to fill the space between the present moment and the moment of truth. I ask that we help each other be fully present in the here and now during the coming weeks. If we focus our present moments on making a positive difference in student learning and in our community, then we will have lived our moments fully, free of fear and anxiety.

Tolle, E. (1999). The Power of Now. Novato, CA: New World Library.