I often ponder the missed conversations and missed opportunities for interaction that exist. What would have been said and done had things taken place that ended up not happening because they were canceled? This may not be a problem normally, and may not even be something one usually thinks about, but this year is definitely one where the opportunity cost of missed chances has hung heavily in my mind for a variety of reasons. In times where one is deeply isolated because of the conditions of the world, it matters a great deal what would have been said and done had time and opportunity permitted in a way that is more poignant than on those occasions where time and opportunity permit a great deal, even if it is not always taken advantage of to the greatest extent possible. We should definitely not take opportunities to interact with others for granted, because such chances can easily be taken away from us, as has been the case this year in a variety of ways. Let us discuss this matter, at least a little.
Today church was cancelled in the area because the air quality was so bad and mobility was affected for people. This is a bit of a shame, because I was really looking forward to at least one of the messages that would have been given by a friend of mine who is currently not able to stay at home because he had to evacuate because one of the wildfires that has been raging in the area very close to his house, a house I know very well and have visited on quite a few occasions. The message would have been a sermonette, and the experience of having fire threaten one’s home and uproot one’s life would have been an obvious object lesson that could have been drawn to make a very poignant point. While fire has not yet forced me to leave home, I have at least temporarily been a refugee for various reasons, including hurricanes knocking out power for prolonged periods of time. We take life for granted, despite the fact that we live in dangerous situations, and sometimes we are forcibly reminded of our vulnerability to acts of violence or abusive authorities or natural disasters that let us know that we cannot take our lives, our property, or our habits for granted.
When there are fewer opportunities for interaction there are a lot fewer things that are said than would be the case otherwise. And while I tend to think of conditions or decisions by other people that limit what could have been said, there are certainly plenty of actions that I have taken that have reduced what could have been said. There are a lot of reasons why it is that people limit interactions even below those which have the opportunity to occur anyway. Speaking personally, at least, if I have reason to feel that someone’s conversation will be awkward or that someone does not have a great deal of respect for me personally, I will try to deliberately reduce the amount of opportunities that person has to treat me with disrespect. I do not think this to be an uncommon matter, as people generally do not like to go out of their way to be around those whom they do not like and whose company is awkward and unpleasant. Unfortunately, we seldom have conversations that let us know what about them makes us feel disrespected, so that others may only know that others are likely bothered and offended but may not know why because we are not willing to tell them.
In the meantime, though, there are plenty of people we would like to interact with more where circumstances make it difficult to do so. Limits on the amount of people who can gather together, concerns that people have about their safety and well-being, divisions based on politics and personality, being scattered to the four winds because of threats of fire and plague and other disasters, all of these things and many other things keep us apart when we would want to be together. Sometimes thing keep us apart when we do not want to be together, and in that case it can sometimes seem a blessing that we are not bothered and irritated with the presence of others whose company we do not enjoy. Let us think of positive things, though, and treasure the good times we have with people we want to be around and whose company we enjoy greatly. And let us hope that we will be able to enjoy more of that fellowship than has been the case over the past few months.