Not all the same storms, different boats.

It’s been awhile since I wrote here on my blog. I won’t bore anyone with my excuses, but this morning I was inclined to sit down for a few moments when I heard a phrase on the radio that I realized I don’t agree with anymore.

When the pandemic first started, I heard someone say “we’re all in the same storm, but we’re not in the same boat.” In April/May of 2020, that really rang true to me. I had colleagues and acquaintances in New York and on the West coast that were dealing with a drastically different world that the pandemic was creating than we were here in Charlotte, NC. I went a long time – months – before I even knew anyone who had contracted the virus and I still (thank God) don’t personally know anyone who has died from the virus. So I agreed wholeheartedly with that statement because I was dealing with the “storm” of the pandemic just like everyone else in the world, but the “boat” of my reality related to it was quite different than others.

Then this morning, I heard someone on the radio use that phrase again. Moments later I was looking at Facebook and saw several friends in Texas posting pictures of their 40 degree houses with no power for over 24 hours, snow and freezing temperatures outside, AND the lingering challenges of the pandemic. And it hit me…we’re not even in the same storm anymore. And perhaps we never were.

I’ve tried very hard throughout the last year to NOT make life all about the “new normal” or the challenges or changes that this pandemic has thrown at us. Instead, I’ve tried to live life as consistently as possible so this morning I’m thinking I should do the same with this whole storm and boat analogy. The reality is that none of us are EVER in the same storm. Daily, we all deal with our own little storms and sometimes those erupt into big storms. While our spouses, children, or close friends might be adjacent to our storms and have some perspective and empathy for what we are going through, they aren’t in it with us. If we’re lucky we have kind, generous, and patient co-workers who are sensitive to the fact that we might be in a storm and don’t want to talk about it but they just care about us anyway. And the fortunate few have a confidant that will allow them to talk out feelings of being in the storm and strategies to navigate through it. But we really are all in different storms, all the time. And like the picture above, there’s only room for one in our boat.

Seeing friends in different parts of the country struggle publicly with the biggest storms that life can throw at you – sickness, job loss, natural disaster, relationship break-ups, etc – that is a very obvious sign of the fact that we are not only NOT in the same boat, but we’re NOT in the same storm. I would encourage you today to remember that even the person sitting next to you on the couch or across the room at work or in line with you at the DMV is not in the same storm either. You might not be able to personally guide them out of their storm, but you can care enough about them to be kind and gentle with them as they do their best to navigate it themselves. Just like our group paddle last fall, you’re going to have to paddle your boat through it by yourself, but keep your eye on the people in front of you and around you and know that they’ll be there to help if you fall in. And if your paddling partner is the one that falls in, don’t panic; try to help them get to a safe place to dry off and get back in their boat because there’s a lot of great river of life in front of us.