If we only live once, why would we waste it being too serious about things that don’t really matter?

Why squander it finding things to complain about?

Why meander along insipidly?

Why worry so much about the progress of others?

Why be suspicious of the motives of those who are different to us?

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Everyone’s crazy.

Those other drivers are crazy.

Some go too slow, some too fast.  Some veer all over the place and some stay too long in the one lane.

Those other parents are crazy.

Some are too strict, some too lenient.  Some are too protective and some don’t take responsibility.

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We so want to tell our own story.

We want to boast about our achievements and have others marvel at our brilliance.

Or perhaps, we have a need to complain about life’s inconveniences, allowing the people around us the opportunity to support us in our hour (or in some cases decade) of need.

We may occasionally ask others how their day was, but we don’t really listen or care.

It’s time to listen and care.

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8th Century English scholar, Alcuin of York is quoted as saying,

“Ye lads whose age is fitted for reading, learn! The years go by like running water. Waste not the teachable days in idleness!”

Over 1,200 years later, I can’t help but feel as though these words have never been more relevant.

While others search for another television show to binge watch, let me encourage you to look for a great book to binge read.

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It doesn’t matter if they put you down or criticise you.

What matters is whether or not you put yourself down.

It doesn’t matter if they build you up or praise you.

What matters is how you speak about yourself.

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Sometimes, when I walk, it’s just to get my quota of steps done for the day.

Sometimes, it’s to get the kids out of the house.

Sometimes, it’s to give Dusty, our trusty golden retriever, some exercise.

Sometimes, it’s in a rush to just get it done.

And sometimes, I remember to look up at the stars and breathe.

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It’s the curious ones who solve the big problems.

It’s those who aren’t afraid to ask questions who find the answers.

It’s the person who reads widely who is able to continuously learn throughout their life.

It’s the one who explores who discovers purpose and meaning.

It’s the wonderer who understands that he doesn’t know everything who is often the wisest among us.

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If you’re looking for a different outcome, it will require a different action from those you have taken before.

If you’re looking to stand out from the crowd, it will require you to be different from the people around you.

Of course, being different isn’t always quite that easy.

It requires courage.

And imagination.

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I often think of people and wonder how they are going.

They may be work colleagues, old friends or family members.  Their name drops into my mind and I hope that they are doing OK.

But too often, it begins and ends with just a passing thought.  I never actually get in touch to see how they are.

On the occasions when I have reached out, I have never regretted it.

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Wherever we go now, we are surrounded by hand sanitizer.

I have a bottle on my desk at work and use it several times a day.

There is a dispenser when I enter my building and outside the lifts.

Every visit to the supermarket requires a liberal dose before going in.

It’s everywhere and so is the smell.

Whenever I place my hands close to my face, I get a whiff of the odour and it’s a smell that after this pandemic is over, we will all remember.

Our sense of smell is closely connected to our memories, which means that for many of us, future sniffs of hand sanitizer will bring back recollections of this time.

My question today is, what will it remind us of?

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