Relying on the Kindness of Strangers

Here is a life lesson: high heel boots, wide leg pants, narrow stairs and jet lag are a potentially lethal combination.  I was recently in New York, where on my first day, after my first meeting, I took a spectacular tumble down a staircase, ending up with a broken foot, wounded pride, and bruises in the most unusual places.  My experience of the last couple of weeks travelling on crutches through New York and London has made me reflect on two issues: first, that as an able bodied person I take mobility completely for granted, and second, how amazing it is to be touched by the kindness of strangers.

From hotel staff, taxi drivers, people in stores, or perfect strangers on the street, I was overwhelmed with how people were willing to reach out and offer assistance.  Perhaps I had become a little jaded but everywhere I went I felt part of a community that was looking out for me as a vulnerable person they saw crossing their path.  This kindness has been just as obvious back at home in Sydney, as I make my way around in a not terribly elegant fashion.

Perhaps this enthusiasm to help is what musician Amanda Palmer was getting at in her fantastic TED talk, The Art of Asking.  Don’t ask fans to pay for music she says, let them. Palmer talks about the relationship between fans and artists in the digital world, but the spirit of what she was saying is much broader than just music.

And maybe that’s the point; maybe we all sometimes need to stop - whether by necessity or design - and put our heads ups, and don’t be afraid to ask for some help.  There is a sense of isolation that can develop as we forge through life at 100 miles an hour.  We don’t have time to ask for help, we just need to get on with things.   But in keeping our heads down we can miss the opportunity to see what is out there when we look up: a community of others who are willing to lend a hand if only someone will let them.