From the Director's Desk

As I write this December missive, the snow is falling outside.  I am feeling the desire to settle down next to a fire, good book in hand, snuggled under a soft blanket, the fur child tucked next to me, cup of tea on the end table beside my chair, and enjoy a little Bing Crosby playing in the background.  Despite my Norman Rockwellian imagination, the reality is, I’m in the office reflecting on the changes of this year.  2020 has presented us with so many challenges.  

A year ago, none of us wore masks everywhere we went.  We were planning trips to favorite places or new adventures, and family and friends were going to fly in to see us. Sporting events, long-held traditions, blowing out candles at birthday parties, the comfort of a hug, meetings around a common table, looking forward to new movie releases and the return of a favorite TV series, and consistent availability of toilet paper, were all impossible to think of as anything but common.  Until the moment they weren’t.  

Many of us now have a collection of masks; mine include: Disney villains, sparkles, solids, and a lovely houndstooth - masks have become a fashion accessory as much as my scarves or jewelry.  We have all cancelled family vacations and having friends visit the island is virtually nonexistent.  Hockey was a go, then a no-go.  Football had been a no-go, then a go, and now sporadic and unpredictable.  It’s unlikely I will ever eat another piece of cake upon which someone blew out a candle.  Postponing the releases of Wonder Woman 1984 and Top Gun: Maverick was a summer bummer,  and my sister-in-law and I will not be enjoying a new season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.  And then there was March Madness - involving toilet paper madness rather than college basketball.  And those were the extremely minor inconveniences that we can laugh about.  

Finding the funny in our situation is important, but it’s also important to recognize that this has been a year filled with trauma for so many of us. COVID has changed so much. The loss of family members and friends is an agony that doesn’t ever completely heal.   Lost jobs, reduced wages, and the deep and long-term ramifications of those events, both practically and emotionally, will impact our community for years to come.  The experience of pandemic times and the stress, anxiety, and difficulty of the prolonged need to follow the social distancing directions of our scientists and health care professionals, while necessary, is something with which we will have to reckon in the months and years to come.   Social unrest, the continued fight for civil rights, climate change fueled fires across the globe, and a contentious election have all been a part of this year for us and the experiences of each have an impact.  For some, the impacts are more deeply salient than others.  

And yet. In spite of all this, or perhaps because of all this, there exists within human beings such incredible resiliency.  It’s that resiliency I see in our students, staff, and faculty.  I’m so proud to work with and serve this community.  In this season of change and celebration, I wish you joy, laughter, and love, and in 2021, I hope for you peace, grace, and good health.