Looking out the window across the cloud-covered sky to the street below I made an assessment that it was not raining heavily enough to impede my lunch time walk.
This assessment remained correct for five minutes, after which the grey clouds decided to dump significantly more moisture. I castigated myself for not bringing my umbrella which I had originally deemed as not being required. How could my assessment have been wrong?
The fact is, my assessment was correct, at that point in time. Circumstances beyond my control then changed the situation.
How often do we make decisions that are relevant to a particular point in time and then become frustrated or disappointed when the situation changes?
What may seem entirely reasonable and attainable with one particular set of circumstances, can quickly become distant and improbable. This shouldn’t prevent us from making decisions, rather it should encourage us to consider what factors are likely to change and then plan accordingly.
This is contingency planning. It doesn’t have to be complicated, just considered. In my case, I should have taken an umbrella – a minor encumbrance that would have meant I was prepared for the situational change. Some things cannot be planned for, but most can! The grey clouds were the indicator that my point-in-time assessment could be short-lived.
For what situation do you need to take an umbrella?
LET HOPE RISE
A friend ran his first half-marathon last year. He set himself this goal and duly went about preparing for it. He monitored his diet, built his fitness and began strategically running with them aim of being able to complete a half marathon first in training. When my boys decided that soccer would be their chosen sport, we prepared by kicking the ball in the backyard, learning the basics of trapping and passing. There are some things, though, for which we cannot prepare.
My dad was diagnosed with a form of leukaemia a few years back. The prognosis for an older patient is somewhat worse than for a younger person. Suffice to say, this was bringing the end of his life nearer. It is one thing to know something, it is another altogether to be ready for it.
People, myself included, have over the years offered the profound advice “at least you know and you can prepare for it”. This is fine when the event is your first half-marathon, but when it relates to the passing of a friend or family member, it is entirely irrelevant. Some things, we simply cannot adequately prepare for. Some things need to be experienced to understand the emotion.
As much as I am an advocate for planning and preparation, I have come to realise that we cannot prepare ourselves for all things. It is at those times, the love and support of family and friends is key. As too, is faith.
My personal faith journey has held me strong in those situations for which I was not our could not be prepared. Rather than seeking to understand ‘why’ something was happening, my faith continues to enable me to focus more on ‘how’ I can help.
Accept that some events will leave us confused, upset and even angry. And that’s okay. We cannot adequately prepare for all things that will happen in our lives but we do need to accept what has happened and then decide to deal with it.
LET HOPE RISE
A year in the life of a vine is all about seasons. As each new season unfolds, the vines progress through various growth stages towards the much-anticipated harvest.
As the temperatures start to rise, the vines awaken from their winter dormancy. Buds begin to burst and new shoots appear – this is Spring. When the warmth of the Summer arrives, growth accelerates. Autumn is harvest time, the culmination of a whole year. During Winter the vines are dormant, but this is the time for long and exacting work to position the vines for maximum growth in spring.
Each season lends itself towards the purpose of the next season. You cannot harvest without the buds arising from dormancy. And you cannot expect high yield if the winter pruning is not done.
In what season are you in life? If things appear dormant, this is the time for culling and pruning – the tedious yet critical work that positions us to flourish. It could a season of tremendous growth – what fruit will we yield?
Regardless of what is happening (or not happening) in our world, we need to recognise it is simply a season through which we will cycle. We need to understand what season we are in and take the necessary steps to ensure we are readying ourselves for our next season.
For what season are you preparing?
One thing I’ve learned over my 43 years is that life is a series of seasons. Some good, others not-so-good. Seasons can be positively challenging and inspiring whilst some are simply frustrating and darn-right annoying!
Regardless of the season I know it will pass. Spring follows every winter. New life comes forth once the shackles of the cold has been broken. For me, this means if I’m in a season of lack, then I know this is the now, not necessarily the future. Of course, I cannot ignore the events swirling around me, pretending all is well. Wearing jeans and jacket in the midday sun of summer wishing it was winter won’t bring on the new season whereas confronting the demands of the season before me whilst planning for the next should be the strategy.
I find myself talking more of seasons when the present is not quite what I want. When I’m in a season of abundance and blessing, I’m okay for this to be the famous endless summer! The reality, though, is that this season may also pass and we should be preparing for what may come. This is not to say that we should expect the worst, actually I believe in the exact opposite. I expect to be blessed however wisdom suggests we prepare for storms before they arrive. Every summer of my 43 years has witnessed a storm!
Irrespective of what season in which you may find yourself now, it will pass. Tackle head-on the demands of the current season and plan today for how you want the next season to look. After every winter, comes a spring!
LET HOPE RISE
Image credit: mikekiev / 123RF Stock Photo
Returning to my hometown recently I am still surprised at comments I hear. A popular one is some people’s displeasure with the level of noise generated by military aircraft giving rise to formal complaints to the local council.
My response is not what customer-service-trained employees say – my response is simply “what did you expect?”.
After all, this IS a military town home to significant army and air force bases. If you live in a military town, then you must expect military operations, aircraft noise included.
Us humans can be funny creatures. We can place ourselves in the middle of the city show / county fair and be surprised at the busyness. We can explore local mountains in summer and be hit by the heat! I think we all need to take stock of exactly where we are placing ourselves and familiarise ourselves with the likely environment.
We should not be surprised by the conditions, we should be prepared for them.
LET HOPE RISE
Photo: Royalty free image purchased via 123RF Stock Photos
It had been around 15 years since I last trekked this mountain. That was my first time and the in ensuing years I know now my memory of the challenge had subsided disproportionately to my memory of the reward.
About 1.2km (about 3/4 mile) into the trek, we (my 12-year-old son and myself) came across “Emergency Helicopter Point 1”. As comforting as it was knowing that plans for our rescue had been made in advance, it was slightly alarming that this could in fact be required. I did particularly notice that it was not simply called “Emergency Helicopter Point” but did in fact have a number assigned to it. There were a further 3 such points up the mountain!
A feature of this trek is that after exerting yourself for almost an hour and half, the final challenge to boldly proclaim you have conquered the mountain is a 300 metre rock scramble to reach the summit. My 15-year-old memory was confident this was shorter and easier than the reality confronting me!
Alas, we reached the summit, rewarding ourselves with fresh fruit and Milo bars from my backpack, knowing that as enticing as the 360 degree views were, we did indeed have to descend at some point, preferably before nightfall and certainly before I became too familiar with an emergency helicopter point!
90 minutes later, we had safely returned to our starting point, holding tight the facts of our victory – 9km strenuous hiking rising 720 metres in altitude, accomplished in just under 3 1/2 hours.
It was then I saw a sign reminding me of why I should have been better prepared – after all, this was Mount Warning!
LET HOPE RISE