A few years ago, I bumped into an old friend of mine while wandering around Art Gallery of New South Wales, near Sydney Botanical Gardens.
I’ve always loved coming here at lunch time. The airy space, decorated with brilliant art pieces in an ultra-sterile, aesthetic setting. I can’t think of a better place to run into someone than this.
It would’ve been more than 10 years since we last spoke.
We quickly moved to a nearby leather bench, sat down and started talking about life in general.
Contrary to the college environment where she worked as a receptionist in the counselling unit in the early 90’s, she’s become a full-time personal carer. It’s a well-paid job. The money is good. But most importantly, it’s job satisfaction. Can’t complain.
She seemed happy with her new career path, so I didn’t bother asking her why she made such a bold move.
And? Tell me more. What else is new? I asked.
What came as a real shock to me was when she revealed chilling details on someone’s living conditions.
For privacy reason, she withheld all personal information and only touched on the key points anonymously – a resident from one of most affluent suburbs in Sydney.
It was a bit confronting to hear it first-hand from her about someone who’d been imprisoned by their own fears, never left their own home for 10 long years.
Up to that point, I had to take a short break. I briefly peeked over the gallery’s entrance and noticed the beautiful sunshine and blue sky outside. It was so uplifting and inviting. So much so, it was incomprehensible to think that people affected by mental illness, could do such a thing to deprive of their own freedom and avoid going out altogether.
The aftermath of the story was so profound that it left me with a lingering thought that kept me wondering: What can I do in my own little way to make the community we live in a kinder place?
Perhaps we can all start with people around us.
Imagine, if we practice random acts of kindness today and apply them to five people closer to us. If each of these five people also reach out to another five people within their family or social circle, then that’s a five-fold increase in the number of people helped.
So, who are these five people in your life?