Being the best we can

Expert Opinion
Being the best we can

Padraic Gilligan (pictured) says don’t wander lonely as a cloud, but embrace life and immerse yourself in acts of kindness. Click here to read the feature in the CMW March/ April 2022 Magazine

There’s a preponderance of healthcare professionals in my extended family. For the past two years they’ve been ‘on the front line’, putting their own health and well-being at risk, battling wave after wave of a rather insidious pandemic that caused annoying sniffles for some, but death
for others.

I looked on with pride as they went about their daily heroics while I went online, joined Zoom calls and tried to stay positive about an industry that, at times over the past 20 months, looked truly dead and buried.

I also felt useless, gripped by the kind of existential angst that, in the 20th Century, kept the likes of Beckett, Kafka and Sartre awake at night, gifting us literary masterpieces that posed the great fundamental questions ‘Where’s the meaning?’, ‘Why go on?’, ‘What’s it all about?’.

When those around me were – literally – saving lives, that gnawing sense of futility as I listened to yet another over-caffeinated, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed presenter yakking on about God knows what became, at times, overwhelming for its over-arching pointlessness.

In the overall scheme of things, when faced with a global pandemic, what use was it to be a business events professional?

The pandemic also allowed me time to think about big questions like that. Time to reflect and consider how my life was evolving with limited in-person connectivity – at times only with my immediate household – and zero travel – at one stage we were limited to 2km.

So what did I learn? I learnt about the limitlessness of human adaptability and resilience. As a species, we actually have it in our gift to deal with anything, adapt, find the work around and, ultimately, also find the meaning.

2km limit? Fine. A 2km radius from your home is actually 2πr = 2 x 2.14 x 2 = 8.56km, assuming you can walk in a perfect circle. An 8pm hospitality curfew? Fine, we’ll just eat at 5.30pm. It’s better for you, more healthy.

No travel? Fine, too. Time to immerse myself in my immediate neighbourhood and start a social experiment. What would happen, for example, if I intentionally greeted everyone that I passed on my daily walks? Manifest kindness, smile and say ‘Hi’ like they do in small country villages? Well, 75% of the time, they’d say ‘Hi’ right back to you. Some would actually stop and want to chat. New connections could be made.

The sense of futility recurred with significantly less frequency. Maybe I wasn’t saving lives like the healthcare professionals with whom I was surrounded, but I was doing my part, finding solace and meaning in what William Wordsworth, that great English Romantic poet, described as:

“… that best portion of a good man’s life

His little, nameless, unremembered acts

Of kindness and of love.”

We’re not all called to be nurses, doctors, paramedics and physicians. But we are all called to be human and that means being the best we can be as a hotelier, venue manager, DMC or incentive travel planner

Conference & Meetings World is published for the international conference and meetings industry. It tackles the issues facing organisers of international events. The editorial is independent, fresh and news driven, with a global reach.

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