I am moving for the first time in years, to a building composed of cheap materials, built from social benefits budget assigned to a contractor whose bid is low cost. It’s not pretty, it’s functional, like a person deciding in her logical mind a functional building should look like; easy access to stairs, double security on gates, bright industrial bulbs lighting up the passageways that get turned on at sundown and turned off at dawn.
My possessions are plenty, they no longer fit into seven suitcases, I need four boxes for bits and bobs I think are important to my life. Five plants in pots of various sizes, and a few large garbage bags with more things get transferred from van to pavement to security heavy door. Moving is the third most stressful part of life after bereavement and divorce. I read about that in an article, years ago.
People of colour, robe wearing, veil wearing; people of ages, teens and elderly all ask me if I need help.
In the chaos that is my life, every question of, do you need help, is like a bright voice of kindnesses echoing in my heart, etched in memory, never forgotten. More precious simply because it’s so unexpected. Here is someone going about their day in a city that seems cold and consumerist and liberal capitalist; a country having voted for Brexit, newspaper headlines filled with stabbings, scandals and outrage, asking a stranger if she needs help moving in.
A welcome such as this I’ve never had.
I’ve moved again and this time it’s a house set in a busy road in one of London’s extensive suburbs. I am sitting on the porch, watching the sky. My neighbour from across the fence is mending a fire in a barbecue oven made from a recycled oil barrel. I used to know the price of oil per barrel and it used to be 120$ down to 35$ in the course of a year. The consequences of this fall resulted in a few companies going bankrupt in the United States but I am in the United Kingdom and this man, a husband and father to a bright child of two is asking me to join them for a barbecue later in the day. Bring your friends, he says. He is from Brazil, works as a gardener and his friends are from Iran and Argentina, hosting family members who moved to the UK from Spain, having given up on finding a job. The woman has a teenage son who intently listens to my advice to study hard, get into computer science on a scholarship as a path to a bright future. I am keenly aware of how important this information is for him, his mother is looking for a room to rent for both of them, having found a job in cleaning. Argentina is facing a food shortage, I know this from the news. She thanks me for showing her spare room dot co dot uk and it’s just a small dent in what in a just world would be a full welcome package for any person escaping poverty coming to a safe place. They share Irish beef barbecued to perfection, juicy and flavourful with me. I am in awe of their generosity and how they accept me into their circle asking if the special corn dish made of corn cakes stuffed with cheese and meat, wrapped in corn leafs is to my liking. The food nourishes me on levels beyond the physical. I say goodbye too soon.
There is so much kindness in the world. We are all so different but that doesn’t stop us from asking if someone needs help moving or would like to join our barbecue. Our lives feel richer with these experiences because in those moments we treat each other as family. Extensive, weird, upside down, each with their own secretly carried pain trying to find that bright spot of love inside or out and when we do find love, that is, kindness, it changes us. It makes us so much more than we thought we were. It makes us human. It makes us belong to one another as we are, accepted, embraced, fed, housed. What if, I ask. What if this is the new normal? Can tomorrow be the day we all have our needs met? Can we turn to one another and offer help, food, home, love, kindness? What would that feel like to you?
I have money but I’m rich in people. My wealth is measured by connections kindness support and love. There are more examples so subscribe to receive my point of view on true wealth. I believe it’s new.
Have a lovely day. May you be blessed.