Resetting the Dial

Anne Swayze
Every once in a while, despite our greatest effort, life throws us curveball after curveball, and even as we outstretch our hands to reach for the curve, it whizzes by, and we are left shaking our heads.
This was my experience during an on-campus event last week. Despite previewing with the boys about the performance, our small Greenwood world was a little out of kilter when it came time to assume the role as an audience. We jigged and jagged, bumped and tilted, and just couldn’t find our center. Watching the evening unfold, I grew more and more anxious as bodies squirmed, hands reached for cell phones, and from a corner of the room, those simply uncontrollable shakes of laughter took hold. Now, I am aware that asking a group of students ranging in age from 12-19 to sit still from 7:00 - 8:30 PM would be similar to asking me to prepare a complete Thanksgiving feast. We will give it a go; we will try our very best and stretch our comfort; however, the challenge, preparation, and execution might be a little too much. 

After sending the students off to the dorm in preparation for bed and thanking the performers for sharing their craft, I found myself replaying the evening. What role did the Greenwood adults have in preparing the students? Could the physical space of the room have been set up differently to support the performance? Perhaps we need to have more live performances to educate the students on proper etiquette. Would there have been a different outcome if the performance had taken place during the day rather than in the evening? I ended my on-duty evening without a solution or conclusion to my thoughts, and as I turned in for the night, I was still mulling over the experience. 

But, here’s what happened next. 

The following day, the boys were AMAZING. They were upbeat, engaged, full of energy, and respectful. They entered our Halloween weekend willing and excited. Every feeling of concern, all those tightened muscles, and residual feelings of worry from the night before immediately disappeared and were replaced with gratitude. 

So, here are my takeaways. 

  • Recognize that when we gather together as a community, we may not always know what our friends are feeling or what life may have handed them on that day 
  • It’s ok to acknowledge that we can’t all be present at every moment of every day
  • Celebrate the small moments, and rest assured that there is value to every experience
  • And, for the adults, in this case, the Head of School, it is essential to step back and take a deep breath. 
Reframe the situation. Renew our commitment. Reset the dial.