We have a wren nesting right outside our living room window. It’s a bay window and there is a climber running up the side of it – a passion fruit, glorious in flower. The nest is in the climber. We can watch the wren, from barely 18 inches away, entering and emerging, singing as it goes. Oblivious and care free.
I think the wren is my favourite bird. Discreet, unobtrusive, inconspicuous. Busy in its own life, flitting, industrious, always moving. Its perky little tail its only nod to ‘look at me’, here I am’.
Maybe these are qualities I value in other human beings? Maybe I value them in myself? Maybe these are things I aspire to, or respect, or admire?
How do we decide these things and why do they matter so? Who knows? Something to be curious about though? Maybe a little birdie can tell you?
Thank you little wren.
I travelled into London this morning by train. I arrive at Paddington, a busy station in the rush hour.
Leaving the train I noticed something I have experience before, but usually I am irritated by it, whereas this time I was curious.
As I stepped from the train, I found myself bumping into fellow travellers. Passengers who had exited the train from an adjacent door or another carriage further down the train; these people were passing along the platform ‘hugging the train’, rather than choosing to move to the centre of a wide concourse, away from disembarking passengers.
I was struck by this behaviour and the potential metaphors for human existence and interaction…
Staying close to where we’ve come from, our roots.
Not exposing ourselves in the throng of humanity and diversity.
Taking the shortest route in life.
Focusing on self and not noticing others.
Being in our own head and not present in the moment.
Staying protected and safe: using a train as a barrier.
Travelling tried and tested paths; the route the train took.
Seeking the beginning or end of our journey.
They seemed plentiful. I may stay curious.
Flashing amber lights are a familiar sign of the need to proceed with caution.
On the roads at junctions, near schools, at points for pedestrians to cross, in roadworks. On the back or top of vehicles, as warnings or indications of intended direction. At building sites, airports, stations.
What a shame we don’t have them at the junctions and intersections between human beings. Alerts to slow down, stop, be wary, proceed with caution.
Yesterday I walked up a busy Edgware Road. I was walking quickly to get a train from Paddington and the pavement was thronging with commuters, shoppers and locals frequenting the many Lebanese eateries.
In front of me was a lady carrying a heavy shopping bag on her left arm. The arm was hooked double to support the seemingly weighty contents. Her right arm was projected out, away from her body at 45 degrees, presumably as a counter balance. The counter balancing arm was obstructing my path and frustratingly making it difficult for me to slip by.
After a few seconds, I stepped out into a space to overtake and nearly went head over heels as a fellow pedestrian walking in the opposite direction was tugging a wheelie case that had escaped my attention.
I suddenly became aware of our personal space. My space and that of those around me. The space we each occupy, not only with our physical bodies, but also with our chattels, our possessions, our accoutrements.
I wonder how often we notice when we invade others space, or when we cause them to divert?
This wondering returned twenty minutes later when a commuter on my train whacked my shoulder with a laptop case thrown over their shoulder. But was I leaning into the aisle? Was I invading their thoroughfare, or were they invading my space in my seat?
And now I notice I have described it as my space and their space and introduced the idea of ‘invading’… strong words.
Personal space clearly matters.