Collateral benefit.

18 Nov 2017

In the early 2000s, or perhaps it was earlier, we started to hear the phrase 'collateral damage'. It referred, as you know, to the effects of military action on people or buildings that were not the intended target. A euphemism, covering up the reluctance of military spokespeople to admit that they were causing unacceptable damage. But I prefer to borrow, and hopefully subvert, that deceitful phrase for a better thought: there can be collateral benefits too (I don't mean from military action).

I get a collateral benefit when I set off to do something, and something else good happens as a by-product. For example, at midsummer I went to a short Solstice camp. I didn't really expect a great deal, but I wanted to mark the season and spend some time in nature. I had not camped at all this year, and hardly last year, so it was a bit of an effort to hunt out the tent, my cooking gear, sleeping bag and so forth. Added to which, the directions were rather vague, I had not been to the site before, and had no-one to go with, so I needed to pluck up my courage a bit.

The collateral benefit was that – apart from being warmly welcomed and having a good time round the camp fire – I met up with someone lovely who I'd known on a counselling course more than 20 years ago. I hadn't seen her since, yet now we are doing some work together. Perhaps 'collateral benefit' is just another phrase for 'serendipity'! But if I had let my negative thoughts or low energy tell me that it was too much trouble to go to the camp, I would never have had the pleasure and luck of re-connecting. Perhaps this is also another way of reminding myself sometimes to 'Just do it'!

Have you noticed any collateral benefits from things you've done recently?


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