Sitting In The Dark With A Stranger


“We feel most alive when we are closest to death.” 
~ Nenia Campbell

I’m in Adelaide right now, staying on my own while I write and work and attend a conference. After dining with friends last night I went back to my hotel and, on a whim, decided to go and check out the outside pool and spa area even though the night was cool and not much good for swimming.

The area was in darkness, but the buildings around us were lit up and pretty and the night sky’s stars twinkled above me. It was so peaceful, there on the roof, and so I sat down in the closest chair to enjoy a few moments of solitude and connection.

‘It makes you feel small and big all at once, doesn’t it?’ said a voice quietly beside me.

I looked around to see an older man sitting in the shadows a small distance away.

‘Yes,’ I answered. Then I apologised for interrupting his peace, for I was sure that I had. I stood up and excused myself, wishing him a good night and was almost back at the door which led to the lifts when I found myself returning to the pool, my legs walking me there all by themselves so it felt.

‘I’m sorry to interrupt again,’ I said, ‘but I just wanted to check that you’re okay. Are you okay?’

‘No, not really,’ he said. ‘Actually…’ and then he paused for a long time before clearing his throat, ‘I’m not really sure how I feel.’

I sat in the seat beside him, both of us looking out at the night sky and the pretty lights. ‘Do you want to talk about it?’ I asked.

He sat there for a long time, the silence thick between us.

‘I went to the doctor today,’ he said, finally. ‘I’m from the country, about six hours drive from here and I came down to town to get my results. They’re not good.’

The silence between us changed, linking us somehow in that quiet space.

‘I knew they wouldn’t be good,’ he said. ‘But I didn’t think they’d be as bad as they are. He said I had maybe two good months left. Maybe less, and then everything would turn to shit and then I’d be gone within another month, tops. If I was lucky. He was a nice young bloke, that doctor. Kind, and I could tell he was talking straight with me, and sort of cushioning the blow a bit…’ He breathed out, a long heavy sigh. ‘But it’s a lot to take in, and sitting in my room I felt suddenly like I couldn’t breathe unless I could see the sky. So I came out here to sit and think about it a bit and try to take it in. And then you turned up.’

‘I’m sorry,’ I said. ‘It must have been a shock.’ We sat there a while longer and then I reached across and took his hand. He clung to mine tightly, his hand warm and dry in mine, and suddenly we didn’t need words at all.

We sat there for an hour, just holding hands and then he said to me, ‘You’re shaking with cold. Come on, let’s go to the bar and I’ll buy you something to warm you up.’

So we sat downstairs in the almost empty bar until midnight, him nursing a fine cognac and me sipping peppermint tea, and I talked to him about dying, and about getting his affairs in order and how he could best manage what was ahead of him, given that he was an older man estranged from his only son, and with his wife passed on from a car accident nearly twenty years ago.

We talked honestly and openly and I shared all I could and on the back of a bar napkin we made him a plan. Then I gave him my phone number, hugged him and went to say goodbye.

He hugged me again, fiercely, and then he pulled me closer and whispered, ‘I was praying tonight to a God I haven’t believed in since Maggie died, and then you turned up. Thank you. I swear you were sent by the Angels, love. Bless you.’

We parted with tears in our eyes and then I went back upstairs to my lonely hotel room, threw the curtains wide so I could see that pretty night sky and I sat in the dark with a full and aching heart from the beauty and savagery and majestic synchronicity of life, and I cried.

Why Kindness And Goodness Matters

“Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.” 
Roy T. Bennett

Life can be a difficult ride, and each of us at times will know pain, trouble, loneliness and struggle. That’s why it is so important for us to practice love and kindness.

But when we are going through our own difficulties, when we are tired or feeling taken for granted, we might wonder what’s the point? What’s the point of being kind? What’s the point of continuing to be caring, helpful, polite?

Have you noticed that emotional states are contagious? Hang around an angry person long enough and some of that will rub off on you. The same goes for depression. Uncaring acts beget more. Selfishness breeds isolation, disrespect, contempt and ugliness.

Just as negative emotions have a negative impact, choosing to stay focused on love, gratitude, positive values and caring will have a positive impact on our lives.

Our emotional state and our thoughts travel out from us like ripples on a pond. They radiate energy that affects everything and everyone around us. Eventually, some of that energy will be reflected back to us, perhaps weaker, perhaps greatly magnified…

What sort of world do you choose for yourself?

Loving others, living from your heart, choosing kindness, and performing acts of service and devotion that may well go unacknowledged or unappreciated are paths that can truly lead us to a better future, influencing and supporting the positive unfolding of history in ways we may not ever know or understand in our lifetime.

No matter what your emotional starting ground, when you uplift others, you also uplift yourself. When you share your heart, it doesn’t decrease your love – it expands your love, and your capacity to give and receive love.

Our Universe is built upon unseen acts of courage, goodness, faith, optimism, service and great love.

Whether you subscribe to a particular religion or not, whether you believe in God, karma, Universal Law or death and taxes – know that by your own actions, your choices, your values, sacrifices and personal character you contribute to the future unfolding of our planet.

Invisible acts of love and uplifting others might not provide us with an immediate reward – but through these acts we are gifted something far more precious – they give us the power to positively shape destiny, and to better shape ourselves in the process.

When in doubt about how to act, be guided by the wisdom of the Dalai Lama:

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.
Dalai Lama

Sending love your way, Nicole ❤ xx

The Value of Encouraging Other People

Image source unknown...

Image source unknown…

“The purpose of life is not to be happy – but to matter, to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference that you have lived at all.”  ~ Leo Rosten

Life can be so very trying at times. We can find ourselves alone, we might fall on hard times, lose our health, endure great physical or emotional pain, make decisions we regret, suffer loss or be faced with a mountain of other problems.

But today I don’t want to talk about your problems. I want to share with you a personal philosophy that has helped me through the darkest of days. It’s no fix for whatever you’re facing and yet it can often illuminate answers and bring light into your own darkness.  That philosophy is to practice kindness and to encourage others.

When we take our focus off our own hurt or emptiness, and find a way to serve others, something profound happens. Our life is vested with a deeper meaning.  Our suffering becomes less significant, or more tolerable. And we find something outside ourselves that helps us to understand that we matter, that in some way we can have a part in the wider world, even if it is not the role we had envisioned for ourselves. Our vibration is lifted. Our soul finds a way to free itself from this cage of pain.

Conversely, if we engage in bitterness, cruelty, criticism and tearing people down these actions seem to magnify our pain and unhappiness. Our vibration is lowered. We attract more suffering and become enmeshed with our problems.

There are many ways that we can encourage others; a kind word, a smile, a thoughtful comment, a hug or a pat on the arm, acknowledging someone’s efforts, being enthusiastic about their successes and kind about their failures.  You could try praise, gratitude, a short email, a card in the mail, a hug, a softly whispered ‘Don’t give up, I have faith in you,” a rowdy “Come on, you can do it!”

Give someone the gift of your interest.  Listen to them, and care about what they say and how they say it.  Encourage them to share and to open up to you.  Be someone they can trust and confide in.

Lend a hand. Offers of help can go a long way when someone is struggling with their own problems. Specific advice and ideas that are supported by your own wisdom and experience can be very useful when someone is just starting out.

Affirm positive actions and attitudes. It means so much when others notice and validate our efforts.

Speak well of people. Introduce and connect people to each other.  Build friendships, and help create communities.

To be productive, to lift up others, to practice kindness, to encourage – these things matter, and they are a magical balm to life’s greatest pains, and for the most weary of souls.

sunshine (1)

You might find these posts useful too:

Will you do something for me today?

The gift of small kindnesses

Today, choose kindness

How you can change the world

Helping-Others-Quotes-No-one-is-useless-in-this-world-who-lightens-the-burdens-of-another.

Invisible Acts of Love and the Importance of Uplifting Others…

Image by Michael Leunig

‘Tis the everyday things that really count,

And the everyday people we know;

And everyday kindnesses go very far,

Toward making a heaven below.

Life can be a difficult ride, and each of us at times will know pain, trouble, loneliness and struggle.  That’s why it is so important for us to practice love and kindness.

But when we are going through our own difficulties, when we are tired or feeling taken for granted, we might wonder what’s the point? What’s the point of being kind? What’s the point of continuing to be caring, helpful, polite?

Have you noticed that emotional states are contagious? Hang around an angry person long enough and some of that will rub off on you.  The same goes for depression. Uncaring acts beget more. Selfishness breeds isolation, disrespect, contempt and ugliness.

Just as negative emotions have a negative impact, choosing to stay focused on love, gratitude, positive values and caring will have a positive impact in our lives.

Our emotional state and our thoughts travel out from us like ripples on a pond. They radiate energy that affects everything and everyone around us. Eventually some of that energy will be reflected back to us, perhaps weaker, perhaps greatly magnified…

Image from optimestric.blogspot.com

What sort of world do you choose for yourself?

Loving others, living from your heart, choosing kindness, and performing acts of service and devotion that may well go unacknowledged or unappreciated are paths that can truly lead us to a better future, influencing and supporting the positive unfolding of history in ways we may not ever know or understand in our lifetime.

No matter what your emotional starting ground, when you uplift others, you also uplift yourself. When you share your heart, it doesn’t decrease your love – it expands your love, and your capacity to give and receive love.

Image from creativeeating.wordpress.com

Our Universe is built upon unseen acts of courage, goodness, faith, optimism, service and great love.

Whether you subscribe to a particular religion or not, whether you believe in God, karma, Universal Law or death and taxes – know that by your own actions, your choices, your values, sacrifices and personal character you contribute to the future unfolding of our planet.

Invisible acts of love, and uplifting others might not provide us with an immediate reward – but through these acts we are gifted something far more precious – they give us the power to positively shape destiny, and to better shape ourselves in the process.

When in doubt about how to act, be guided by the wisdom of the Dalai Lama:

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.
Dalai Lama