Dealing with Disappointment

It’s the little things that can take the wind out of your sails.

The most devastated I have felt was after breaking my leg during a game of football. It was one of those nasty breaks, you know, when the bone comes through the skin. After emergency surgery and an insertion of a metal rod, I spent over a week in hospital. The day came when it was time to go home. I was itching to get out of there and just before I was about to leave a doctor entered to look over my leg. I had never seen him before, but he took one look and showed concern over how the wound was healing, “Sorry, you won’t be going home today”.

I was devastated. I had been through so much in the previous week, away from family, friends and my home, and on the brink of being able to return to some form of normality, it was all ripped away.

I never saw that doctor again and I went home the very next day with no issues to report. That doctor will always be a jerk in my mind because that was the hardest 24 hours I have experienced.

There is something incredibly challenging about being so close to a goal and then having the finish line moved further away. It can deplete the strongest will.

I faced a similar feeling last weekend. No broken legs to report, but broken plans…again. After 222 days of having a hard border in Western Australia, travel was opened up which made it possible to visit family and my two eldest children in South Australia. With tickets booked and plans made, the border between WA & SA stayed open for less than two days before it shut tight again because of a Coronavirus outbreak in Adelaide.

I am devastated. I will cancel my trip to Adelaide, for the second time this year. We have all been through so much in the last 7 months, away from family, friends and homes, and on the brink of being able to return to some form of normality it has all been ripped away. So close, yet so far.

So what do I do with this disappointment? How can I ensure that the next few weeks and months are not the hardest that I will experience?

Something that I’ve learned since I had that sporting injury almost ten years ago – gratitude will keep you going. I will have times when I feel sad, and that’s okay, but it’s important that I don’t stay there because I have so much to be grateful for: my wife, my two younger children, our health and safety, the fact my two older children are also healthy, our lifestyle here in Perth, coffee (I could go on). The more I can keep those things front of mind the better my experience of the next few months will be, and I will be more enjoyable to be around. We will get there, this is not forever, just another momentary challenge.

Gratitude aside for a moment, Coronavirus will always be a jerk in my mind.

Feeling lonely? Try this.

Telephobia is real. It has research to back it up and everything. Essentially it is a fear of making phone calls, or of Teletubbies, perhaps both because they can both be terrifying. But about two thirds of people have experienced fear when answering a phone call, and about 20% say they feel it all the time. Perhaps you have experienced it at some level.

So we text. We avoid. And we put making a call off until later, when we feel like it.

The unfortunate part about that is we are hurting ourselves and others.

As we try to stay connected during this time of isolation and working from home, people are realising that digital conversations are just not cutting it. They are not meeting the need we have to be part of a community.

But making a phone call can. It’s the next best thing to meeting in person because hearing someone’s voice helps us feel connected and gives the sense that we belong, much more so than digital conversations.

Which makes sense because there is something powerful about our voice. It’s not just the words that we say, but the emotion, state of mind and sincerity that are communicated through the tone. In fact, hearing someone’s voice provides a more accurate insight into their emotional state than their body language.

If you are wondering about what you can do to help those around you during this global pandemic, an act of generosity is as easy as making a phone call. Reaching out to someone so they can hear your voice, talk about how they are going, and help them feel part of a community, can do wonders for them. And us. It is the antidote to loneliness. It may cause some anxiety for you to make the call but bringing joy to someone is worth the discomfort.

I’ll Give More

I’ve seen my fair share of generous acts. The one’s that stand out most are those that are initiated out of trying circumstances. There is something special about witnessing an act of strength out of a place of weakness. That’s what I would consider a generous act to be – one of strength.

I spoke to a supporter recently, just to check in and see how he was going in the current climate, hoping that he and his family were safe and healthy, which they were.

During the conversation, his concern turned to the people that Opportunity works with. Those living in poverty in India and Indonesia and how this global pandemic is affecting them, and what it could look like in the next few months. The truth is, we really haven’t seen anything close to what the impact the Coronavirus will have on developing countries, and these two specifically. My sense is that it will get a great deal worse before we see any light at the end of the tunnel which will have drastic implications on millions of people.

This supporter shared my concerns and agreed with this dire possibility. He said, ‘I like what Opportunity does and how you go about it. I will give again this year, and I will give more than I have before’.

I was blown away. We are still living with a great deal of uncertainty in Australia. No one really knows when things will turn around economically for us, but here was someone who was committing to an act of strength when surrounded by weakness. This type of generosity is so powerful that it impacts everyone it touches. I was inspired, and I know that what he will give will also inspire those living in poverty who will be on the receiving end.

I Want the Numbers!

I am a fan of the West Wing – the TV series that ran from 1999 to 2006 staring Martin Sheen as the President of the USA (wouldn’t we love him in the White House now?).

My favourite character is Josh Lyman. A witty, emotionally unstable, and hugely intelligent deputy chief of staff. There is one scene where he is waiting on polling numbers after the President gave a speech and there was delay after delay, even a blackout, pushing back the arrival of the data. To which he eventually yelled in growing frustration, to no one in particular, “I WANT THE NUMBERS!!!”. Did I mention emotionally unstable?

I have found myself saying the same thing every day over the last few weeks. Each afternoon I have patiently, and sometimes not so patiently, waited for the official announcement of the latest Covid-19 numbers. The new cases, total cases, the number of deaths and the number of people who have recovered. I have been hanging on every figure, every speech, every news article which might give me numbers, or at least some insight into what the numbers mean. Are we flattening the curve? Am I doing social distancing right? When can I get my hair cut?

Why? Why am I so invested?

I think it’s about progress. Getting somewhere. I have been looking for some indication of what we have been doing as a country over the last few weeks (has it really only been weeks? March was the longest decade ever), is actually making a difference. I long for a feeling of progress to make sense of the sacrifices we are all making. Tell me we are getting somewhere, and I will dig in and keep going. I will stay home longer. I will social distance. I will flatten that curve. But if I can’t see a point to it, or there is no sense of progress then you will have a hard time telling me to stay put.

Progress is vital in all areas of life. If we feel like we are moving towards something, then it is incredibly motivating, and we can take the next step. We can endure the most difficult and frustrating of circumstances if we feel like we are making progress.

So, keep the numbers coming!