For me, Crossroads is a joyous time. The reason for all the happiness is the fellowship. Together in one place are people from various backgrounds and perspectives with a common devotion to improving science education. This doesn’t happen by accident. We are very deliberate about who is invited and who ends up attending. And yet it often feels like magic. My memories of Crossroads, and the 2011 gathering in San Antonio in particular, is sprinkled with hearty laughter and warm embraces. Of course it is not all fun and games. The people who attend do so because they are primed to engage in deep discussions. I forget about the intensity of the Incubator sessions. Pictures like this one remind me about the importance of our conversations: In this image are three people who, despite traversing varying pathways, come together to contemplate an issue at hand. Each individual is incredibly smart. I think of each as a very happy person and my memories of conversations with each has them smiling. However, in the right setting and under the right conditions, they are able to focus their attention with an unparalleled focus. I wonder where else we might see three people looking at a fourth person with this intensity. This is what it looks like when professionals are given the opportunity to extend themselves and direct their caring dispositions toward a colleague who is vexed by some aspect of the profession. Around this table are individuals who take issues seriously. They work hard at this. And to be on the receiving end is an amazing experience.
The magic of Crossroads is that we can work hard and play hard. We are very serious at times but also just as comfortable at laughing — quite naturally. In combination — the intensity of the work and the genuineness pleasure we have being in each other’s company — helps remind us that we are not alone. I can’t wait for it to happen again. This might be an important thing to remember: I should not wait but strive to find other ways to experience the joyous intensity of serious thought.