Much ado about nothing…

Wednesday June 26, 2013

Isn't it ironic that the more people we're surrounded by, the more isolated we can feel. Surely, it should be the other way around?

But surveys say that Londoners feel lonelier than people from any other part of the country. On down days I count myself in that number. There just seems to be some sort of critical mass beyond which our senses are overloaded.

Self-consciousness kicks in, self-expression goes out of the window and simple communication can feel really complicated.

Travel on a busy tube or bus and you'll know what I mean. The busier it gets, the faster people retreat into their worlds of iPods, Kindles and Candy Crush. (It's infectious too. Check out the next time someone plucks their mobile from their pocket, chances are it'll prompt someone close by to do the same.)

When everyone's wrapped up in life's minutiae, it can make it even harder when you're feeling blue to reconnect. Eye contact becomes awkward and as for starting a half decent conversation, the words 'hen's' and 'teeth' spring to mind.

So it's a relief when someone cuts through it all with an intervention of normality. In London, it's often a tourist that helps out. A smile coupled with a request for directions. The strikingly normal suddenly seems so profound. And a welcome relief. In an instant the isolation dissipates.

Yesterday's unexpected, but very welcome wake up, happened in a coffee shop queue. An endless stream of complex orders for decaf, triple filtered, single shot frappacinos wasn't helping my morning mood.

The barista called the order for four coffees to collect. Suddenly she was reminded they were 'to go'. As she looked up with the guilt of a child caught crayoning on the wallpaper, her eyes were met with those of a smiling Aussie.

'Don't worry love,' he boomed kindly, 'just stick them in those paper cups.'

Next time you feel you're withdrawing from the world with a busy head, give yourself a break, take the smiling Aussie's attitude. See it simple.

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