As you may be able to guess, this past week was not less busy than the preceding one.
Small College where I work is going through a bunch of changes right now. So, although I am not on any committees, I have been going to a number of meetings at which people aired grievances, asked questions of our top administrators, and tried to decide how to proceed on various matters. There's a lot of anxiety about our financial situation. A couple of those meetings have shown a collective sense of demoralization.
Whenever I go to a big meeting, I try to find a colleague afterward to talk about it individually. Not always the same colleague. That is my chance to ask questions about past decisions and try to get a sense of what lies behind the questions and statements in meetings. So this week, I asked a colleague what s/he thought about certain issues, and as we talked I said I hoped that the changes we're going through this year are an opportunity to get some fresh insights and vision, and put the college on a better footing.
"Well, aren't you a Pollyanna," s/he said. Not meanly, and we both laughed. But it made me wonder. I try to keep me eyes open and not ignore the problems the college has to deal with. But I also try to hope for the best. I need to hope for the best, in fact. If I don't, I find it easy to sink into a sort of panicky pessimism in which I'm convinced that everything is going to hell in a handbasket. I hope I'm not naive to think that positive change might emerge from our current situation. I hope that I won't end up burned out and cynical about the prospects for institutional change.