As I adjust to life on my own I find myself paying more attention to the interactions between people. I am becoming more observant and maybe even ( I know it’s hard to imagine) more introverted. I’m certainly more reflective.
At a family wedding on Monday I felt particularly alone even in the midst of lovely people happy to chat. I noticed all the couples enjoying the occasion and each other. The loving glances, the gentle reach of a hand to another, the affectionate shoulder squeeze and comforting back rub and the warmth in the embraces as friends greeted friends. I noted the subtle, seemingly insignificant gestures of kindness offered by many to people they had just me and felt simultaneously both happy and sad, acutely aware of the absence of Bill’s physical presence and his tender touch.
Returning to Corris the next day, one of the hottest days in Wales ever recorded, I anticipated train delays and decided to make the most of the journey whatever happened.
While enquiring about alternative trains due to missed connections, I met a lady who was traveling the same route. with a two hour wait til our next train I was resigned to sitting still in the sweltering heat and daydreaming of cool breezes. She, decided to walk into Shrewsbury and explore the town. I offered to watch her luggage, a carry on bag and an artist’s portfolio. She hesitated at first and said she would manage, but I explained that I had no plans to do anything but sit and wait. She was persuaded and entrusted me, a stranger, with her belongings.
Ten minutes before the train was due to depart she returned, excited to show me the summer dress she had bought for her daughter while explaining what a rare treat it was for her to shop alone. Helping her out had been no sacrifice at all to me, but to her was a significant kindness.
The train conductor approached us on the platform and suggested we would be more comfortable in the front carriage which had air conditioning and once we were on board he provided us with bottled water. When we sympathized with him about working in such intolerable heat, he plopped down in the seat opposite us and chatted for a few minutes reminding us cheerfully that once Autumn arrives it will be leaves on the tracks that will cause the delays.
The inconvenience of delayed transportation allowed for pleasant exchanges between strangers and the 90 minute train ride passed swiftly as Sian Bennett, children’s book illustrator, and I, chatted about our lives and discussed the nature of kindness.
The final leg of my journey was by bus. The Polish bus driver waived my fare when I mentioned I have applied for, but not yet received, my bus pass. “Sit down, relax and enjoy the ride” was his comment to me.
So, I am learning to “relax and enjoy the ride” while trusting in the kindness of strangers.