President's Column: The Ephemeral Beauty of Living in the Moment

Apr 01, 2021

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Each year in Seattle we look forward to the blooming of the cherry blossoms. At the University of Washington (UW), a camera is zoomed in on the cherry trees, and the cherry blossoms even have their own Twitter account!

I enjoy watching the transformation of a single bud. In Japanese culture the cherry blossom season, or Sakura, is a symbol of “the ephemeral beauty of living.” This year, as we continue to respond to the pandemic, we’ve been asked to not come to the campus to view this spectacular but fleeting event. Still, no matter how we experience them — in person or remotely — the cherry blossoms teach us a lesson.

They remind us to pause and appreciate the small moments in life. Like a single blossom, these moments may seem insignificant, but many of them create a beautiful canvas. The cherry blossom season, which marks the start of spring in Japan, also provides us an opportunity to look forward. In this time of transition, as we move cautiously toward more moments unconsumed by the pandemic, the lesson of the cherry blossoms is to acknowledge and honor the present while never losing faith in the future. They also remind us that life moves forward, and we have the joy of knowing that this time next year the blossoms will reappear.

In Brené Brown’s book “Daring Greatly,” the idea of moments is woven throughout. While acknowledging that moments are fleeting, they are intertwined with vulnerability, joy in ordinary events, building trust and daring greatly. These are moments I see every day in individuals, units and organizations.

Think about what moments mean for you. They may take the form of saying, “I don’t know, but I want to,” which might lead you to your next bit of lifelong learning or evidence-based practice. Or you may tell yourself, “I have unique knowledge and expertise,” which could move you to study for certification. For some, it may take the form of courageously acknowledging the fatigue that many of us feel and bravely seeking support. There is power in those moments.

The more I think about it, moments can point to healthier work environments. When the vulnerability of an authentic leader, the meaningful recognition from a colleague, the powerful connections from true collaboration and effective decision-making all come together, you can challenge what has always been done and move patient care forward. Perhaps you will submit a Beacon or Chapter award application to capture and recognize who you and your unit are and the difference you make.

I see these moments captured in the profound words of Brown, whether in a personal moment or as we come together to care for our patients and each other:

“The most powerful moments in our lives happen when we string together the small flickers of light created by courage, compassion and connection, and see them shine in the darkness of our struggles.” — Brené Brown

This Is Our Moment: All In. These words inspire us to move forward in purpose-driven action. These words also prompt us to acknowledge and be All In, in this moment.

The UW cherry blossoms inspire me in the moment. What small joys energize you? Write to me at