It’s good to befriend different people or attempt something new. The other day, during a break in our June rainfall, we were playing tennis – mixed doubles with a freshly retired policeman and his ex-teacher wife.
They’d just got back from their first sailing holiday, round the Greek isles, and were clearly empowered and uplifted by it. Previously they had only sailed a dinghy at Fairhaven Lake, not a three-berth yacht!
My own sailing experience has been mostly restricted to crewing on others’ boats and, frankly, at sea I always felt happier when we were becalmed. It was like my brief rugby career, when I only fully enjoyed the team spirit and exertion after the match and in the bar.
Perhaps the most inspiring change or adventure I’ve undertaken was to travel widely abroad. You see amazing sights and, of course, broaden your horizons. Looking back though, it wasn’t the travelling - that I tired of - which stayed with me. Instead, it was the diverse people and unexpected associates of different colours, culture and creeds who helped or befriended me along the way.
Some simply assisted a lonely traveller with his needs, like getting the right bus or service; even, just as importantly, being friendly. Others I shared an office with for some years, to discover working overseas among such different people was a delightful learning curve.
They all helped mature and improve me, just as a new challenge enthused that former policeman. But the abiding lesson left for me was to offer a cheery smile and encouraging word to those among us who are strangers, or in the minority, or alone.
Don’t be held back by shyness or a sense of interfering, even fear of rejection or of the unfamiliar. It’s always worth that extra effort. Like giving something freely, it can make you feel even better than receiving!
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