Kindness of strangers


A woman I don’t know gave me a gift. She thought she was giving me a night’s accommodation and the chance to have a night away. What she actually gave me was the opportunity to briefly be without responsibility, without a role.

For a short period, I am away from my life. By chance, a friend’s long anticipated girls weekend away, had a late cancellation, and here I am. Sitting in a book filled coffee shop on Main Street of a Southern Highlands town, I have a moment of freedom. It follows a morning of breakfast and uninterrupted viewing of an hour of current affairs. It is a little thing. Silence. An invisible thing. Precious and easily broken.

This gift is worth more that the dinner, the wine, the conversation the stories, although they are all important. I read a book. That’s right, a whole book. I read articles from a journal. The sun blinded me as I opened the curtain this morning on to a day that is cold and clear. Billie Holiday kept me company in the morning as a spread myself out across a sun filled room. No one spoke. No one was there. I was alone. Alone is a state that is necessary. Alone with my thoughts. Alone with no foil against which to spar and pun. Alone to just breathe out. Empty my lungs completely. Watch my breath rise and fall.

For a few hours I am alone in my own skin. Resting. Recuperating briefly. I don’t think any deep thoughts. I don’t resolve anything. I don’t crowd my mind with other thinking.

I don’t have any jobs to do. There was no mess to clean up. No one wanted anything. Not even me. Billie sings: if you want the things you love, you must have showers.

I have a card for the giver of this gift. It is simply a thank you. Daisies. Plain. But it reads – Life is made up of little things that people do for each other.

I hope she knows what she gave me.