A few months ago I was standing on my doorstep one night rooting through my bag for my keys in order to open the door. As I looked up, I saw (what I assume to be) a white stray cat strolling across the street. I remember weirdly standing for a minute to admire it; stray cats I see are not usually white so it was a rare sight. It’s white stood out beautifully against the darkness of the London night.
Like that cat maybe we should start wearing what makes us different more proudly on our sleeves. I say this as someone who recently feels like they’ve been in a lot of spaces where they’ve felt so…different and out of place. Sometimes it was because I was black, sometimes it was because of my faith, other times it was simply because I felt like an introvert surrounded by larger-than-life extroverts. At times like that, it can be tempting to either shrink back to try to survive the situation by suppressing your difference so you can camouflage into your environment.
It’s definitely true that differences can be isolating. But differences can be empowering once fully owned and the beauty of them is fully understood. Admittedly, it is a learning process- and not an easy one; one that Is part of the wider journey of learning about and loving yourself. Don’t be someone who holds their differences tightly to their chest scared they might be noticed or zoomed in on. Instead, if like me, you often find yourself feeling such a way in certain social environments I want to challenge you to be a bold different from now on.
Smiling is a beautiful thing- and I mean a genuine smile. A crescent moon of happiness on the face. A snapshot of laughter. When the joy inside of you bubbles over it can’t help but show from the outside too. I fully believe no-one can do too much of it. In fact, it doesn’t take much to feel like London is a miserable place for many that needs more smiles. I’ll often be quite tired and focused on my commute to work but when I get a smile from a fellow commuter on the train- although usually taken aback and suspicious in the first few seconds I always return the smile. And as we silently stand radiating mutual positivity in this weird but normal facial language, things change. My mood lifts a little as I go back to whatever I was doing and I realise, wow I really needed that.
Similarly, when I’m out and about, the people I actually find that smile the most freely and often are children. Especially babies, they have no logic behind their smiles sometimes but they will happen anyway. It’s therefore interesting that as we grow older we become more cautious with our smiles; only directing them towards we know and trust. Our smiles become sacred currency not many can access. We start to rationalise what should be a natural and easy thing, meaning we start to much less of it.
There’s so much in this life that is beautiful and that we should be grateful for; I try to remind myself of that every day (and trust me, it may be obvious but it can still be hard.)Even if you reflect on your current situation and 8/10 things are going wrong, smile because you have the other two things to be grateful for.
Yesterday I had a moment of serenity as I walked down the path to choir rehearsal. I was on the back streets of Notting Hill, the sun shining (weakly, but shining nonetheless), cooling intervals of breeze and Shawn Mendes’ voice soothing my eardrums. Did I mention I was eating a beef patty? Well, I should have, and with every bite, I was more appreciative of the moment at hand. As I looked at the trees ahead fighting for the sun’s spotlight I thought about how everything had conspired for this moment to happen. If I had decided to go home or to a different part of London, or maybe if it had rained instead- that exact moment wouldn’t have happened. That kind of mathematics (i.e. possible worlds and alternative chains of events) I like to leave to God, but it’s amazing to think about every now and then; it gives a new meaning to the moment.
Here’s a poem a wrote to embody the feeling in such moments:
Took this photo recently during my birthday outing. It’s of the Cutty Sark, a boat which I have very limited knowledge about. I just thought it looked pretty :). A random guy has photo bombed this picture, I like to think that his head compliments the photo.
If you ever pop down to London, or even better, live here, you HAVE to visit ‘My Old Dutch’. The Pancake house serves a variety of pancakes- both sweet and savoury. Their food is to die for. I went there for my birthday and it was great. Had an Apple pie for dessert.
Mmmm, apple pie…
Check it out: http://www.myolddutch.com
What do you guys think? Street Art or vandalism? Personally, I think it decorates the wall better than any lick of paint could. I remember seeing this while waiting at the bus stop with a friend. It looked so striking against the night sky- I just had to take a few photos.