Calm in the storm
All has changed, changed utterly. You can sing it! We never saw this coming. It’s as though the world as we knew it has been suspended in time. What started out in a far away land has morphed into something that knows no borders. Amid the haze of the unknown, our coordinates have become blurred. Alone we stand yet together we await. As a collective, we are staring in the face a challenge like no other. You, me, all of us. We are in this together. It is a time that will define us as a people; each one of us as a person.
It’s hard to know where to turn for reassurance. Uncertainty breeds fear and hysteria in equal measure. The surreal has become the new normal – Covid 19, social distancing, self-isolation… I can hear Dougal whispering from a bygone time “Isn’t it mad Ted”. Now more than ever we need to heed the warnings and minimise all social engagement. We cannot be casual on this; there is too much at stake. We know the ‘surge’ is coming – we’re just not quite sure how long it will last and how we’ll all be when it has departed our shores. This is the hour when we will be tested most. Time now to re-claim what is best in us to see us through.
Waterford Camino Tours, like so many small businesses, has been hit hard by Covid 19. Things were evolving and growing just as you would want and our first 6 Day Camino with guests from Wales, Switzerland, Australia, Canada and North America was due to commence this coming Sunday. In an instant, everything has come to a shuddering halt. We’ve had to postpone or cancel 15 group bookings for the year ahead, we’ve put on hold exciting new partnerships in the tourism arena and we’ve had no choice but to bunker down in the hope that we’re still standing when the storm has passed. It’s not easy. There are no guarantees we’ll come out the other side with our business intact. But you know what, perspective is everything. We won’t go hungry. Our priority is to make sure that the people who have made us who we are get to share the next leg of our adventure with us. We will draw on every fibre of our being to get through this. Like you, we too will rise again.
All of us have known times in our lives when the going was tough. Never as a nation can we remember arriving at this same point together. I can recall a particularly difficult time in my life with a clarity now 18 years on as if it was yesterday. It’s funny, times of adversity leave imprints that last a lifetime. We quickly learn to draw on reserves we never knew we had. We begin to see more clearly, this time with zero tolerance for the superficial and the fake. Lessons learned the hard way tend to stay with us long after the experience has passed. Songs from the soul linger into the night to guide us on our way.
Be strong. Now is not the time to lament what we can no longer do. None of us can afford the luxury of feeling sorry for ourselves. Self-pity breathes inertia. We tend to gravitate to routine and lose that ‘creative spark’ that’s vital to our spirit. Now more than ever, find something to give your day a sense of purpose. Start as you mean to continue. Discipline yourself with a schedule. There’s a book waiting to be read, even written, a story to be told, a song to be composed or sung, an instrument to be played, a painting to be unveiled to the world. Seize the opportunity this moment presents.
Search for the positive. An over-reliance on social media will numb your mind and only add to the worry. Break free from the slipstream of others and dare to be yourself. In a world of conflicting sounds, tune into the ‘inner voice’. It’s the one that guides you on your true course. Ignore the harbingers of doom. I think they secretly enjoy being grim. Daily bulletins are important, good informed sources are vital but watch for the glimmer of light before it breaks through and bring the thrill of this discovery to others. What we are experiencing now, frightening and all as it is, will pass. As I write, China and South Korea seem to be coming out the other side of the tempest. Trust in the ingenuity of humanity to find the right vaccine. The experts will crack this. Hope can rise against the bleakest of backdrops. What is good will endure.
Find your own ‘still zone’. The great outdoors have a way of soothing the tempest of the mind. I love my sport on TV. Normally, as Spring approaches, I’d be glued to the Masters from Augusta, or to the last few games in the Premier League, or to Aintree, roaring home my fancy if he’s made it beyond Beecher’s Brook for the second time. Sport on TV has always been our one constant. One press of the remote and we’re there, following each move as if our lives depended on it. Strange as it may sound, the auburn glow of the setting sun as it slips below the headland in Tramore seems all that bit more real and reassuring for me right now. Solitude in a frenzied world tunes us to something deeper and reminds us that we are not alone.
Have your favourite walks, your quiet seat by the river or the sea, your woodland trail or cliff path. Keep a safe distance from people you meet along the way. Your garden too can become your sanctuary especially if you’ve been asked to ‘cocoon’ at home for a few weeks. Soon the sun will shine, flowers will bloom, birds will chirp – all in ways you may not have noticed before. Our summer rituals may need to take on a new complexion. Time to be innovative and try out new trails off the beaten track. Pack your picnic, make an occasion of it. Once you set out, you will want to come back for more.
Gravitate towards the right people. It’s in times of trial that you see your true friends for who they are. I’ve been reminded of this in recent weeks. It’s hard sometimes to escape the clutches of those who drain the energy from you,even to the point of doubting yourself and your true worth. Now is the time to ‘detox’ from the negative. Let them go and leave room for those who matter most to come in. Being true to you is the source of your liberation. So if there’s anything burdening you from your past, reconcile yourself with it before you let go of it, not to prove yourself to others, but to be at peace within yourself.
Great friends are priceless. Be there for them as they have been there for you. ‘Facetime’ bridges the divide between people in this time of social isolation. It’s good to keep the link with friends near and far, to listen, to share stories, to laugh, to cry, to sing, to pray… whatever it takes to see us through. A call, a text, an email, a letter can lift someone way beyond words.
It’s time now to re-connect – to the universe and to our better selves – then find ways to align both so that we come out of this all the more grounded for our experience. We need to think differently about our world and our place in it so that the legacy we leave behind is rooted in kindness. This above all else matters. In our darkest hour, good is bursting through like never before. Medical teams on the frontline exude bravery and selfless abandon in their quest to save lives,strangers nod in unspoken solidarity as they pass by, neighbours make sure that the elderly in their midst want for nothing, music is echoing from balconies and gardens across the globe in a spontaneous overflow of love that we havn’t seen before. All of us have a role to play. There’s a life force at play here that will see us through. We have strayed from source. Maybe it’s time to return.
Slow me down
“Ease the pounding of my heart
By the quieting of my mind.
Steady my hurried pace
With a vision of the eternal reach of time.
Give me amidst the confusion of my day
The calmness of the everlasting hills.
Break the tensions of my nerves and muscles
With the soothing music of the singing streams
Teach me the art of taking minute vacations
Of slowing down to look at a flower
To chat with a friend, to pat a dog
To read a few lines from a book.
Remind me each day of the fable of the hare and the tortoise
That I may know that the race is not always to be swift
That there is more to life
Than measuring speed.
Let me look upward
Into the branches of the towering oak
And know that it grew great and strong
Because it grew steady and well.
Slow me down Lord
And inspire me to send my roots
Deep into the soil
Of life’s enduring values
That I may grow towards the stars
Of my enduring destiny.”
Excerpts from ‘Slow me down’ (Sandra Wylie, sourced by Mossie and Helen Scanlon, Dingle)
Dr. Phil Brennan and his wife Elaine invite you to share in one of their specially tailored ‘time-out’ experiences in Ireland’s South East. The Waterford Camino experience blends walks, cycles, motivational talks and music. For further information, check out our website on waterfordcamino.com or email directly at firstname.lastname@example.org