One evening I noticed a blackbird sitting on the top of our neighbour’s roof. As I looked at the blackbird with its sleek black feathers and golden beak the word relinquishment came to mind. Over the winter months I hadn’t heard it singing and I wondered if it had relinquished its ability to sing because of winter?

During our lifetime, we have to relinquish many things ourselves. We’ve had to relinquish babyhood in order to become children. At the other end of life, we have to relinquish the notion that we are still young and can do everything, especially when our stiff muscles and creaking bones tell us otherwise.

In nature caterpillars also have to relinquish much in order to become butterflies, but what beautiful transformation.

During the pandemic lockdown number 2, we have been urged to relinquish our freedom of movement yet again in order to stop the spread of the virus. However, there are compensations.

For instance, listening to the Science Show on Radio National recently I was captivated by a true story related by the late scientist Mike Tyler AO who was also known as ‘The Frog Man’. He told about an incident as a young scientist when his passion for frogs almost landed him on the wrong side of the law. One night while out walking, he heard a frog croaking in somebody’s front garden. Excited by the sound he went into the garden and searched for the croaking frog. With a light fixed to his forehead he was so intent on finding the frog he didn’t notice a woman in the house peering around her curtains. The woman was so frightened by what she saw, she asked her husband to call the police. The scientist, oblivious of what was happening around him, didn’t notice the police arriving. Fortunately, they quickly ascertained he wasn’t a potential burglar, and let him go.

I laughed at this scenario, and again later when an occasion triggered it. Fortunately, due to the pandemic, we don’t have to relinquish our ability to laugh.

Now, wearing a mask has become mandatory so relinquishment goes on.

Wearing a face mask when out means we can’t smile at people. Yet, if the saying is true, that the eyes are the mirror of the soul, we can still show compassion and concern for others. And of course, we don’t have to relinquish our ability to wave.

Also, we haven’t been asked to relinquish our curiosity either.

Right now, I’m curious to know how to put a doona cover on a doona without a Mr Bean-like wrestling match. Recently, as I tried many times to get a doona into a cover, words my mother often said came to mind. ‘If at first you don’t succeed try, try, try, again.’

Relinquishment isn’t easy, but we can always find an alternative if we ‘try’.