15 Jan The Big Issue seller of Liverpool Street Station
When I lived in London I used to walk an hour to get to work. I’d walk past I don’t know how many thousands of people on my way, and rarely connected with any of them.
There was one man however, who stood opposite Liverpool Street Station in London who sold the Big Issue every day. Every morning, as rush hour people-traffic moved past him he would tirelessly repeat the following:
‘Good morning, good morning, how are you, good morning.’ Bowing with each phrase.
I loved that man. I’d make sure I greeted him back with a smile or a hello, and sometimes a purchase of a magazine I never really read. He exuded joy, even though by City of London standards he was materialistically probably the poorest person working in the borough. For me he stood as a reminder of how resourceful and persistent humans can be. The vast majority of those walking past didn’t stop, didn’t acknowledge him, and yet he continued to work.
I used to wonder how he managed to show up in the same peaceful, open, connecting way day after day. What part of himself did he access that allowed him to show continued compassion as so many rushed past?
When I think about myself back then I remember anxiety about the work ahead, a personal pep talk of encouragement to just ‘get through the day’ and then everything would be ok. I’m sure I wasn’t alone with such thoughts. I feel the concept of just ‘getting through things’ is endemic in our society; the message that nirvana lies on the other side of slogging your guts out in the workplace for fifty years is perpetuated through advertising, government policies, the news…
I no longer buy it. I don’t think the Big Issue seller buys it either. I have a feeling he connects with the way he feels from moment to moment, taking note of the small nuances of change that occur within him as he moves through his day. The changes that we so often ignore because we’re too busy thinking about all the things we need to get done before we can retire in peace.
But life is about those tiny changes we feel, the glimmers of emotion that sometimes flash through us, and sometimes linger a bit longer. Life is about connecting with those around us, reaching out to each other to create, share moments of joy, support each other in times of fear.
Life isn’t a treadmill to walk through to get to the other side, it’s a kaleidoscope of experiences, each moment deserving of our attention.
Life is beautiful.