Stop So You Can Start Again
There is a charitable feel about Oxford and chivalry definitely exists. Double decker buses willingly slow down behind bicyclists; bicyclists courteously make way for pedestrians. It’s as if each are dipping their hats to the other and saying ‘after you’. There is no rush and bother here; everyone takes their time and, as a former city dweller, it’s an absolute delight to be part of.
I come from the stress and drama that makes up a metropolis. Everyone is late; everyone is blaming someone or something for their delay. No one has time for anyone else because they rarely have time for themselves. But here in Oxford, time has slowed down and people make the time to chat, to say hi, to welcome one another and be part of a community.
Freshly fallen apples are regularly left at front gates for locals to collect on their way home. Last week I collected enough to make my daughter and I a deliciously warm apple crumble. Following Oxford tradition, I then shared some with my neighbour. I’m of the firm belief that what goes around, comes around and if someone is thoughtful and generous enough to share their excess apples, then I am equally delighted to share back.
It’s something that has made me question, why in a big city do we lose that sense of connectedness? Is there some way that we can bring it back into our lives? Many people live in apartment blocks and don’t know their neighbours. We see people day and night and pass them by without as much as a hello. Yet as single mothers, it’s more important than ever that we connect with others and remove our isolation and develop a network of support around us.
In Sydney I had a wonderful relationship with my immediate neighbours, but I didn’t know those four doors down. Yet here, I know all those that live in my apartment block. I have invited them in for a welcome drink, had some over to dinner and now trust a few to look after my girl while I am occasionally out. And it really got me thinking as to why I do things differently here.
It comes down to this. If we stop and breathe, stop and consider, stop rushing, blaming and excusing, we can find the time to stop, look around, see life and say hi. We can stop to open doors, help someone with their groceries, smell the roses, and connect with others. And in turn, they will start to do the same for you. Sometimes we simply need to stop in order to restart life again.