I'm listening to the song Stand By Me. It makes me think of a quote I picked up at this year's ECTRIMS describing the relationship between caregiver and caretaker. I believe it is very much to the point of Oceans of Hope: ”I can´t tell you what the future will bring – but we promise you we'll be there with you all the way”. Then I´m thinking back on the last 17 months and trying to grasp the awesome experience of entering Barcelona harbour completing the circle around this beautiful blue planet. Meeting all of you wonderful people there, both on the dock and out at open sea, greeting us as we sailed in. It fills me with an immense feeling of gratitude. Imagine that you, almost two thirds of all the MS crew who have carried the torch and sailed this yacht around the globe, had come from all over the world – South America, USA, New Zealand, Australia and all parts of Europe – just to be together and celebrate our important journey. And I know that those of you who couldn't make it to Barcelona have been following us closely. You were there with us in our hearts! Thank you everybody – I will be forever grateful for having shared this journey with you.
We have definitely and irreversibly changed the perceptions of MS and what it is like to live with a chronic disease. Living with MS is different in 2015 than it was just a few years ago. Many new and promising treatments have evolved and our biological knowledge of the disease is rapidly increasing. Also the relationship between health care personnel and patients is changing. More focus is naturally put upon looking at the individual, emphasizing empowerment, worthiness and independence. I strongly believe that we have only seen the beginning of this trend and that Oceans of Hope, the values we represent and the way we have lived and worked together on this circumnavigation, is trendsetting for a change of culture in how we meet each other and how we organize our health care institutions. This is confirmed by all the media attention we are getting everywhere we go and by all the invitations I am receiving to participate in conferences and seminars.
Great expectations for the future
We have done something very spectacular: We have created a great story, a story with epic dimensions, a story with roots in the great myths: The story of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. It's the journey of the hero: to take on the adventure, and to come home. It is an affirmation of life – and very life changing indeed for everybody involved. One could say that this dimension reflects why we are in the world. We have managed to connect this great story with the everyday life on the boat – showcasing how we are in the world: Always looking at each other as an asset, never as a burden. Knowing that everybody contributes to the journey in their own unique way. Being on a boat is a metaphor of life. We are in the same boat. It doesn´t make sense to compete. We have to work together. And there are other important aspects of worthiness and living a good life than being the fastest to hoist the main sail (still frustrated that Kristian and Bertram beat me on that one ;-)
This particular project of sailing around the world is coming to an end. However, I sincerely believe that we as an organization have never been stronger and more alive than we are now! Just think back of our presence in Barcelona. I am absolutely sure that new adventures are to come. We are working on it and everywhere I go people are very enthusiastic. It takes time and hard work to create commitment for big projects. Rome wasn't build in one day – but remember: All roads lead to Rome.
Sailing Sclerosis Foundation and Oceans of Hope will continue to lead the way and be a lighthouse and a beacon for combining the great story of why we are in the world with an example of how we want to be together.
We will encourage all the initiatives sprouting all around the world in the wake of Oceans of Hope. To do this we are working out specific guidelines to help everybody who wants to establish local Sailing Sclerosis activities and by that benefit from the reputation, brand, network and achievements that we have accomplished so far. We shall encourage everybody who wants be part of Sailing Sclerosis and Oceans of Hope. And at the same time we shall make sure that we carry a clear and consistent brand and message. It is important for the expansion of our organization that we hold on to the great story; that our logo is clear and recognizable; and that the branding, our focus and our values are consistent. This document will be send to all of our members and partners during the winter.
I sincerely believe that we are holding on to something good and that we have very good reason to have great expectations for the future. Sailing Sclerosis Foundation and Oceans of Hope are here to stay.