I am singular, particular

There is only one of me

And yet

When I travel through the cities of this world

As I am privileged to do

I am overwhelmed by knowing

That behind each door

Is a particular life

A family, a quarrelling couple,

A lonely person with his unique history.

The “knowing” is so superficial

I cannot really “ know “ it at all

Anymore the details of these lives

Than the sheer magnitude of the numbers

Seven billion, they say

And each, somehow, amazingly

As special and as personal to themselves

As I am to me

I am supposed to care

About the starving children

The war-torn regions

The lives wrecked by earthquakes, floods, fire

I send money

To assuage the guilt

Of my indifference

On July 7th, 2007, I was in my car listening to the radio. A bomb has gone off in Central London. Maybe more than one bomb.

People are hurt. People may be dead. Communications are muddled. The situation is unclear.

My son! In London! In Central London!

I pull over and call him. No response.

He is Dead. I know it. Or injured. I picture him staggering, bloodied, up from the tube.

I sit in my car and weep. I am so convinced by my imaginings, I am grieving already.

Someone taps on the car window.

“Are you alright , dear?”

This complete stranger invites me into her house nearby and nurtures me with tea and sympathy.

Tragedy has made us sisters in the moment.

Which must have lasted for half an hour at least, until I received a text

“I’m O.K. Mum. I’m at the dentist”

I have never seen that kind lady again, although I think I was well-mannered enough to post a card of heartfelt thanks through her letterbox the next day.

And you, who are listening to, or reading this, you whose lives are so particular, so unique, so personal to yourselves, at this moment you are linked to me by your attention, and I will enter your world when I listen to or read your words.

The link will break as we continue with our lives, networking closer to others for a long or brief time, with more or less investment of attention.

Such paradoxes; the many, the few, the personal, the universal, the interrelationships, the indifference and the compassion. All part of the unfathomable kaleidoscope of life.