Group 31

Reflections for Memorial Day Weekend 2021

Dear colleagues, clients, and friends,

I don’t know about you, but this might be the first, post-vaccine holiday that we will be experiencing, with a chance of being outdoors and actually safely seeing friends and family. We may feel a little like bears that have been hibernating and are finally being sprung loose . . . from more of a nightmare than a pleasant long winter's rest.   

I am so grateful for the break, for the chance to regroup, read, walk, and visit with people. I'm writing from Maine, and the Maine mosquitos have also decided to celebrate Memorial Day, so a little DEET on our masks might just be the right combination!

In an interview with Anderson Cooper, psychologist Adam Grant (also a professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and our client, as a board member at The Baldwin School, during the Head of School search) talks about what we are currently experiencing as “languishing,” in other words, no great sadness but also no great joy. Adam says we are “feeling meh,” a term and emotion with which most of us are very familiar. Adam, clearly playing psychologist to his patient Anderson in this interview, or channeling the good-spirited Horatio to Anderson’s melancholy Hamlet, suggests Anderson start a journal and write down the three things, each day, that bring him joy. Seems like a logical place to start. 

Although we are feeling this sense of languishing, and this break is intended to be about honoring the war dead, I suspect that we are also thinking about the wars being fought in our own backyards over our basic rights: to be food secure, to experience good health, to vote freely and conveniently, to earn a fair wage, to control our bodies, to have access to an education, and to be safe in our communities.

Given this week’s one-year anniversary of the death of George Floyd, I wonder if Memorial Day needs some contemporary rethinking about those whom we have lost in the fight for social justice, equality, equity, and inclusion. There is a memorial project in Minneapolis called “Say Their Names Cemetery” that is doing just that: reminding us of the lives lost in this battle. A block away from where George Floyd was killed, anger and hope have become a cemetery created from corrugated plastic and paper. The 100 headstones each bear the name of a black person killed by police: George Floyd, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor, and too many more. 

So, this Memorial Day weekend, please clean up that BBQ, break out those bicycles, streamers, and American flags, safely join gatherings with family and friends, step away from work and Zoom, and take a real break. We’ve been waiting so long!  

But let’s not forget to count our joys and to commit ourselves to a nation and a world where lives need not be lost to secure the basic rights to which all are entitled.

My best wishes to you all,

Shelly Weiss Storbeck, Founder, Storbeck Search
Global Education Practice Lead and Managing Director
Diversified Search Group