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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Wishing Away

Wishing Away

By Dr. Ryan Donlan
Assistant Professor
Department of Educational Leadership
Bayh College of Education
Indiana State University

It is fitting that President Obama said, “Out journey is not complete,” during his Oath of Office Ceremony on Monday, January 21, 2013, as all of us seem to need this reminder from time to time. 

The journey is far from complete, for each and every one of us.  Our President’s statement is particularly relevant to our leadership in K-12 schools, as well as to our personal lives.

Seems that all too often, we wish away our journey for the destination.

Yes, we spend our time WISHING AWAY the present for the future.  This is not so much a result of our working in education, but instead from “being” human, I believe.

A few examples:

“Sure hope I get through this degree program quickly.”

“I just wish [our state’s Standardized Tests] were over!”

“Only 78 more days before summer vacation.”

“Can’t wait until I move from the Principalship to the Superintendency!”

“Two more days until FRIDAY!!!”

“My little one’s driving me crazy; can’t wait to get past those ‘terrible 2’s.’”

These comments seem innocent enough.  Yet, I wonder if we need to examine more closely what we are saying … and what it represents. 

I used to share with my undergraduate students my concern for those who wished away their journeys for their destinations by asking them what their lives would entail upon graduation from college. 

With tongue-in-cheek, I would say,

“You’ll owe lots of money, more so that you do now.”

“You’ll be older with more health concerns.”

“Your children, now in grade school, will think of you as less-intelligent – even with your new degree – and they will treat you as they would an ATM machine.”

“Your children, now in high school, will be adults who bring you all the worry still … yet no ability to help make things all better for them, as we did with Band-Aids for the booboos of their childhood.”

Of course, in extracting my tongue from cheek, we all know that while some of the aforementioned are true, the trade-off’s of college degree attainment are more than worth it.

Yet, why would we ever wish for something as gainful as life experience to be “done with,” as the end result is our flirting a bit closer with our own mortality? 

I just don’t get that.   

There really IS something to be said about experiencing the present, and possibly enjoying it as well, even when it is a bit “clunky.”  Better said, there is something to be said about the journey.  Yet, we oftentimes sit idly by those who will listen to our banter, whether in the lounge, on Twitter, or in coffee klatches, wishing away.

I spoke to my father-in-law recently over the holidays, asking why he arises at 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. each morning to drive to his friends for coffee.  That would be a painful wake-up call for me, no matter how good the friend.  No matter how good the coffee.

He said, “I’m just enjoying getting up while I can … cause one of these days, I might not be able to …”

I think my father-in-law should ride along with me the next time I professionally develop a staff or even the next time I talk with students. 

His message might be infinitely more important than anything I plan on sharing.


Dr. Ryan Donlan is enjoying his journey teaching, serving, writing, and researching in the Department of Educational Administration in the Bayh College of Education at Indiana State University.  If you have comments, questions, concerns, or a critique of his Ed. Leadershop contributions, please feel free to write him at or call him at (812) 237-8624.  He would love to talk with you anytime.

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