Finding the Balance

Message From The Director

For many of us, finding and maintaining balance is an integral aspect of our lives.  When you are in school, the balance between studying and socializing has an impact on you and your future. As you move through life, many other outcomes are greatly influenced by your actions. The decision to spend or save money, practicing a healthy lifestyle versus indulging in (sometimes less-than-healthy) cravings, finding time for both work and family – these are the constant balancing acts we routinely face in our everyday lives. 

Normally, you know you are striking the correct balance when you look back and reflect how past actions have contributed to current circumstances.  Normally, through practice and reflection, you develop a sense of what proper balance feels like. You maintain a constant internal gauge for your academic or professional performance, physical and emotional health, and your overall work/life balance.  Normally, if you look back soon enough, you can make corrections and try to change your circumstances when you feel that your balance is off. Normally.

As this month’s newsletter was about to post, I recognized the article I wrote several weeks ago was inadequate for the circumstances of today, which are anything but normal. Today, we find ourselves in the midst of a crisis that requires us to find a balance in unfamiliar and uneven terrain. The Coronavirus pandemic is a global crisis that leaves none unaffected.  It has created situations in which individuals and agencies have to recalibrate their gauges and redefine the balance for everyday life.  For all of us, decisions for protecting the health of our families and loved ones are paramount. We will make daily choices to try to ensure our wellbeing and safety, weighing (as best we can) all potential outcomes in a future fraught with uncertainty. We will spend time worrying about the impact of our decisions on our futures.  And, we will doubt the decisions we make, as well as those of others.  

Today, just as we have in the past weeks and will for the foreseeable future, our leadership will have to make unprecedented decisions.  Each decision we make will have an impact on our visitors and our employees.  Before making them, we will discuss the expected impacts of our decisions on the health of our employees, our visitors and our state parks.  Around the country, in other, more significant discussions, decisions are being made regarding supplying our health care services with the tools they need. Leaders in different sectors are trying to make decisions to protect the economic wellbeing of the citizens of our country.  A lot of people are working hard to find their balance right now – whether it is the mom-and-pop coffee shop trying to figure out how to continue to pay bills and employees, or our elected officials trying to keep essential services functioning while slowing the spread.

The decisions in state parks we have made so far, and the decisions we will make in the next several weeks, are going to be unlike any we have had to make before.  They will not only require innovative approaches; they will also require measures that can be adjusted and adapted to rapidly changing circumstances.  One day, we will return to some sense of normalcy. Then, we will be able to look back, evaluate our decisions and determine if they had the desired results.  We will be able to see what we could have done better.  I hope – in the end – our decisions and actions result in a Park Service that is better able to respond to our customers and employees, and one that still provides an escape and an outlet for millions of people each year. Finding and maintaining balance in these uneven times can ultimately make us a stronger and better organization. In the meantime, for our visitors and employees, I would ask only for your patience; and, I would like to thank you for your understanding, flexibility and support as we try to find the balance. Thank you.