Monday, 14 January 2013

Thought Picnic: Chance, stories, life and hope


Rivers flow where trains stop
Chance, some will say brought us together like a confluence of rivers that have trailed the geography of nature from source bringing life and wealth borne of banks, of depths, of creatures and of weathers long gone.
We were being smart taking the fast train to two stations north of where we were going to hop on the slower train back; a gain of almost 30 minutes but this night presented no such savings.
There were no trains in the sidings, after waiting a long while, I checked my Android and what should have been green for District Line trains had grey and a question mark, so I made for the ticket office where the disinterested lady flippantly said I need to get a bus without telling me where.
Irked and quite so
I loitered a bit outside the station, the usually present London Underground staff when there is a bus replacement were nowhere to be seen, this was looking like the typical London blunder-ground.
I was returning to the ticket office to tell the lady off when another lady, call her Jane asking if I was looking for the bus stop; she had obtained some information from the obstreperous ticket office about the fact that the District Line was not running from Upminster because of engineering works.
What was incredulous was knowing there was one service unavailable from a station she was manning she did not think it was helpful to announce that underground trains were not running because she worked just for C2C.
Lacking basic intuitiveness
Everyone and the village dolt knows passengers use and interchange between London Underground and C2C, we hear announcements at train stops telling us of services available, the tickets are accepted between these two companies. As far as customers are concerned we just want to get to our destinations, safely, comfortably and be treated with an element of consideration.
Such staff are a nightmare for any public service company, they have the wrong attitude, project the wrong image and give the company a rather bad name just from being unnecessarily obnoxious.
O Jane
So, Jane and I made for the bus stop and got talking, the best thing that had happened in her long and stressful day was the bus arrived as we got to the stop.
We got on the bus and sat together, she had a story, 2012 was annus horribilis for her, a marriage of 20 years that broke up, a mental breakdown and debts piling up like insurmountable mountains, it was woe upon woe, she has lost her ability to smile, talk less of laugh – what sadness.
We all have stories and I am alive today with gratitude and with lessons, coming from the depths of despair that has had losses, not as great as many have had but enough to give perspective on live, hope and seeing beyond our dark clouds.
My ordinary story
When I told her where I had been, jobs, cancer, debts, foreclosure, new job and amazing adventure ahead, I hoped that at least she had learnt one thing, the resilience of the human spirit that faces desperate adversity and comes through it given the great gift of a story that it is never over until you draw your last breath, but as long as you are living, there is much to hope for and whatever you might have been through, you are neither alone nor unique, just human.
You may not know where to get determination from and sometimes you might think you have no strength to see the day through but think about your story, how you want to tell it or have it told about you.
Work for your story
With gratitude to God, to friends, to compassionate strangers, helping hands from far and near, not to forget the miracle of medicine, I still have a story, one I do hope can encourage, inspire and kindle hope.
She smiled, we wished each other well, I hugged her and said, she should begin to think of how she wants to tell her story.
A chance encounter, it was, but one necessary to reaffirm the fact that I have been more than fortunate and one to say people have walked through the valley of shadow of death and come to rolling hills of lavender, a spring in their step, the sun shining at its most radiant, caring for nothing more than the joy of living. 

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