Counting the Days


Over the past few months as my final year as head of school rolled along, I have been asked on a number of occasions whether I was counting the days until my retirement. I guess my short answer to that question has been yes and no. This entry is meant to explain that answer a bit more fully.

Certainly, there is a practical benefit to counting the days. It keeps us on track and provides needed structure to our lives. In my current professional situation, I need to keep track of- to count- the days since there is a finite and dwindling amount of time for me to accomplish the goals and tasks I have set for myself this year. Schools count the days regularly to make sure that we have enough time to achieve our goals for our students. Apart from school life, counting the days helps to keep us grounded and correctly oriented in time. Our recent long holiday break made that abundantly clear to me. At several points during the break, I had trouble recalling the day and the date because the ordinary structure of my life was restructured (or unstructured) for over two weeks. So, during those moments of disorientation, I had to take time to count the days to regain my temporal equilibrium.

Now I turn to my no response to the question of whether I was counting the days until my retirement. Some years ago, my wife Jan was a co-founder of a support group in St. Louis for persons living with cancer. The group had a lovely name that clarifies exactly my no response: Make Today Count. The critical issue is not to count the days but rather to make the days count- each day. The wisdom of twelve step programs is similar: One day at a time. This wisdom holds true not only for those of us facing a major transition in life but also for each of us no matter our life circumstances. Going forward, that is the most important answer to this question: Are you counting the days? No, I am doing my best to make each day count!

Until next time,