I heard on the radio yesterday that my place of work is one of the institutions considered by the Universities Union’s report to be the most at risk of financial closure. Not a nice start to the morning, although when I got into work the atmosphere wasn’t quite as despondent as I’d expected. It’s a pretty poor piece of research, and while the four indicators they’d used are ones where we do not score well, there are unsurprisingly more than four factors that influence the financial security of an educational establishment. The principal’s strong rebuttal statement was thankfully being quoted in much of the media and we’re hoping the Union report doesn’t act as too much negative publicity. The last thing we want is for new students to be put off coming. The financial forecast does sadly make it unlikely I’ll be offered more hours although my department are short-staffed. We wait to see how many take the opportunity for voluntary severance pay.
My main thought for the day was a line from one of the carols we were preparing for the evening service. The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came is one I really enjoy singing, and it includes the line where Mary says “to me be as it pleaseth God”. I think it’s a great attitude, particularly when it involved an unplanned pregnancy by an unseen deity, the disapproval of family and friends and the possible end of her betrothal to Joseph. Not to mention the years bringing up a rather remarkable child who lived a controversial life and died a nasty, early death. Mary’s joyful song of response includes wonderful words about God’s mercy, justice and provision for the hungry. What a woman.
I’ve got my PhD Viva coming up next week and am feeling somewhat apprehensive about it – probably the most pressured hours of my life so far. I know it’s not exactly giving birth to a baby, but the gestation period has been rather longer and I do feel a bit maternal towards my work. The task of defending it from criticism is meant to be a rigorous academic challenge but the letting go part probably came when I printed it out and handed it in. Letting go of anxiety and stress is probably my main task now.
Allowing children some freedom to explore and take risks is an important part of helping them grow up. Over-protective parents who try to wrap their kids in cotton wool are not doing them any favours. Tanya Byron’s report into the behaviour of young people on the internet points out how many children who are kept in to protect them from the outside world are still doing the same exploration and risk-taking, just on the internet instead. Talking about potential risks and opportunities with young people seems an obvious way forward. That said, I do think more safeguards on sites like Facebook such as high default privacy settings and easy to use ‘help’ buttons should be made standard.
Clinging on to things stops us from enjoying the freedoms we have. Letting go may feel scary, whether it’s to ride a bike on our own, fly down a zip wire or ski down a slope. Precautions like wearing helmets or safety wires are important, but eventually we need to let go. Perhaps we need to let go of the expectations of others or our own anxieties. Maybe we are holding on to a load of baggage which is weighing us down. Sometimes letting go of a deep breath might be a place to start.