Different Boats - Same Storm

Posted by Jennifer Law, Boys Town Press Author on Jun 2nd 2020

Lately I’ve heard the phrase, “We’re all in the same boat.” In some ways it seems to be true. We are all going through experiences due to the coronavirus. We are connected. The worries I have now match the worries of other people all over the world. It used to be that my worries were unique to me and my situation—isolated to my small part of the world.

While we share the same worries and concerns, when you look closer, we are not actually in the same boat at all. We are in different boats, but in the same storm. And, this storm is affecting us in many different ways. In some ways it is similar, and in other ways it’s like we have different types of boats and different sizes of crews with us. We have different skill levels when it comes to navigating through these waters, as well.

Right now we face turbulent waters. This unrest comes in the form of unemployment, the loss of life, togetherness, and peace of mind. Millions of people have become unemployed. Thousands have lost their lives. And, closings of schools, churches, and businesses have led to cancellations or new adaptations of weddings, funerals, proms, and graduations, just to name a few. Most who are still working have had to figure out new ways to do so. To meet new needs for safety, we have made changes in how and where we work, teach, and study. We have lost things we used to take for granted. Who would have guessed that being able to purchase a package of toilet paper would become so wonderful! This new world feels unknown and worrisome.

Our new circumstances remind us how vulnerable we all are and how we need to work to take care of ourselves and one another. We thought we knew what to expect from the world. Yet life doesn’t remain constant. It is forever changing. Luckily, the same is true for people. People grow up and grow old. They learn new things and achieve new goals. They meet new people and see new perspectives. They appreciate new things. And, that’s where we live now. We have this ability to keep moving forward even as the world feels like it’s reached a stand-still. People find new ways to move on. We may grieve what we once had and what we lost, but we can cherish what we still have.

This may be a chance to notice the moment and each other. We can’t see as far ahead as we used to. Now we can focus more on the present. Who is with us? Who are we connecting with? How do we treat ourselves and the people around us?

Sometimes we mourn for what used to be and what could have been. We long for comforting and happy moments to stand still. Yet time marches on whether we are ready or not, just like it always has. Luckily, we have choices in how we handle the changes and the new. We can be fearful and tell ourselves stories filled with negative thoughts and worst-case scenarios. We can choose to be angry and bitter and lash out at the people around us and ourselves. But I think we also have the choice to look for the good and appreciate the moment. To find gratitude in what is right now. We can choose to be brave and adventurous and find strength in handling new experiences. We can build ourselves with positive thoughts and self-compassion. We can reach out and give to others who are hurting. And, we can take care of ourselves with rest, enjoyment, and hard work so that we have the strength to take on the new challenges that arise in the storm.

As we stand in our boat and look to the future, we can’t see out very far. We may not know what is on the horizon, but we can see each other. And, sometimes if we look for it, we can see sunshine breaking through. All storms end. We need to remember that this one will, too. When it does, we will find ways that our boats and ourselves have changed. In the meantime, if we notice the moment and choose kindness and self-compassion, we will find that we can grow stronger than we were before. We may not be able to plan ahead knowing what will happen around us, but we can still make plans to become the person, or the captain, we want to be.