Raindrops make Rainbows

Raindrops make Rainbows

At least, I’m not alone in feeling like I’m not doing as much as everyone else seems to be during this Lockdown! Everywhere I look, there’s yet another person joining in on self-help sessions, learning a new skill, re-visiting long given-up hobbies, drawing a woke-Insta-worthy bubble bath or frothy coffee…. You get the drift.

The thing is that, for far too long, I had been living a fast-paced life trying to do anything and everything to keep pace with the person that I thought I should be. And then, as it often does, life happened.

My priorities did not shift, they just got more focused. I was reminded that every person has circumstances, responsibilities and priorities that are unique to them. And so, I got to work on what was most important. To me.

I also accepted that not everyone would understand, accept and appreciate my choices. After all, it’s not easy for me to do the same with others, is it?

It’s important that at a time like this, we take the time to stand back and evaluate what’s most important in our lives, without looking to others for comparison. We are comparing only what we can see, which is really unfair. To others. And to ourselves.

I feel that if there’s anyone we should be comparing ourselves to, it is our ancestors.

Looking back through my family tree, which I started work on in 2007, has given me a real sense of connection and gratefulness. Just over a hundred years ago, our ancestors struggled through the upheaval of The First World War, closely followed by a global pandemic.

I focus on the impact of these on a single now-broken, mini-branch of my family tree – my Dad’s then-25 year paternal Aunt, lost her little family over the space of a few months in 1918 – her husband was lost at sea when his ship was torpedoed; and, a few months later, her 2 year old daughter succumbed to Spanish Flu. She did not marry again but made a positive impression on the generations after, as the favourite dowager aunt who despite losing so much, always focused on how lucky she, and everyone else, was. This through two world wars, financial hardships, loss of so many more lives in the family due to non-existent healthcare, and so much more.

Where do I start comparing our lives? The world is unrecognisable across every element. I have so much I take as an expectation and for granted – WiFi, WhatsApp…. human rights, freedom, security, safety, education, healthcare… my family, a home, food on the table, which they would not have.

This makes me grateful for so much that I have. And I am not alone in feeling grateful …and sharing, caring and giving back. The collective evidence can be seen in our communities, in different ways and to different extents, but together it makes a real difference.

The little ways I have helped within my community are varied and fit within my ability:

  • I lead the young people’s initiative in the village and this has continued in a lockdown-appropriate format with the help of BWCT (the Burley in Wharfedale Community Trust) and BYS (Bradford Youth Services);
  • I liaise with support services to ensure we continue to be aligned and communicate on safety and security within our village;
  • along with a large number of village residents I support village organisations directly and indirectly – in this instance I’ve ensured that relevant country and local government and official service information is assessed, communicated and shared across relevant village social media platforms, and to smaller groups such as those putting together scrubs and care packages;
  • What I enjoy the most though, is my daily designated exercise of a walk down my street to the ‘dog park’ – wearing my designated hat/cap of the day, I take this opportunity to litter pick and wave/chat to everyone I see. Good deeds combined with a daily walk with my family.

We can see community ties being built and strengthened with the many good deeds from so many people. From the 5 year old who drew a chalk rainbow on his road to Captain Tom Moore – it’s the thought and actions that count towards the big picture.

A single raindrop does not stop to question or ponder the reason for its existence. A sentient human being, however, does nothing but. Until we come to a time where we know our purpose is to do all we can.

Together we can make rainfall. Together we can replenish the earth. Together we can make rainbows.

Loraine Hughes, Bradford For Everyone Ambassador