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‘The ship is safest when it is in port, but that is not what ships were built for’

It feels quite a relevant quote during these unpredictable times that we find ourselves in, whilst the COVID-19 virus is amongst us.

We are constantly being encouraged to stay safe, to keep our distance, to look after ourselves and this is, indeed, good advice. 

However, it may also be important to stay safe by keeping in touch with those around us, to look after ourselves by keeping a certain closeness with those we can...

We are all finding new ways to do that, people using Skype, Zoom, on their phones more than usual, people writing letters, cards, the local shops selling out of 1st stamps perhaps an indicator of how important it is to stay in touch.

I’ve noticed that when I go out to run, some people look and say Hi! They look happy and eager for a bit of human interaction, a wee bit of chat, even if it is with this stranger who probably looks a bit red in the face, hair is all over the place and can hardly lift her 2 feet up to go any faster than a snail’s pace!

Anyways, there’s a willingness to connect and it’s lovely to be able to shout out that the weather is great, that it’s a lovely day, and I don’t feel quite so alone in the streets that are quiet early in the morning.

Sadly, I’ve also noticed that some people I pass look straight ahead, their faces look tired and they seem to be focused on something I’m not seeing. I might suggest they look scared, fearful, but I’m not quite sure what of...rationally, I understand there are lots of things to be fearful of as in the best of times there are lots of things, a whole variety of things, we can be fearful about, and whilst our communities are full of reminders of the C word (the virus!), of course people are struggling with all sorts of worries, from health concerns for themselves or other loved ones, financial concerns, the list may be endless...

But I also believe that now, more than ever, that it is so important to remain optimistic. We want to be hopeful that this too will pass, because when we are hopeful we look out for the signs that are positive and they lead us to find brighter outcomes.

It feels so important, when our world of media through newspapers, TV, social feeds, is full of fearful messages that we maintain a balance, that we don’t get lost in fear. Because I can see in the fear that we start to turn away from others, we start to become suspicious of others, we turn inward and we limit ourselves.

What if we are like ships in the sea? Ultimately, we can’t control the weather, the storms that we encounter, but we can control how we react to what is happening around us. Our power is in that choice, because if we choose to move out of the Port and sail the unpredictable seas, chances are high that we will discover new lands, new sights, and we will meet new friends and in our adventures we will feel alive and we will have a purpose.

It is maybe silly to start writing about a simple passing conversation with a stranger, and end comparing that to an adventure at sea! But when we can’t literally travel that far from our doorsteps maybe it’s ok to think of those passing conversations as opportunities for adventure and new experiences...

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