THE NATIONAL NOVEL WRITING MONTH will begin on the 1st of November. The annual challenge will transform budding and established writers into hermits in a hurry to heave their words, resulting in a haphazard – or highly skilled – 50,000 word novel by midnight on 30th November.
In fact, we are surrounded by storytellers, many of whom we may not even notice.
Everyone in your tube or train carriage has a story to tell; the man with his newspaper flitting in your face, the woman with her push chair wheels rolling over your feet, or the boy muttering to himself whilst wearing a pair of headphones larger than his head.
And I bet you they can teach you something more than the book or newspaper you have your head buried in.
Facebook, Twitter, tube and train carriages, parks on a summer’s day, bus stops, queues in shops and waiting rooms all have one thing in common: they represent a point where people from all walks of life come together; a moment where we pause in our journeys and stand near one another.
It’s like a spontaneous meeting point with an open invitation; a melting pot of Londoners.
We’re not necessarily heading in the same direction and we may not have arrived in the same way, but our paths cross and we either acknowledge each other with a nod, a smile, a poke or a tweet.
Or apologise for accidentally nudging someone with our elbow or our bag, admire one another’s attire or appearance, strike up a conversation about the weather, delays or the daily commute or do not even realise that another person is there.
But can you imagine the stories many people have to tell that are more fascinating than the pages of our books or newspapers, or the tube poster that you end up reading ten times, without the least bit of interest in the latest hay fever nasal spray?
What’s on your mind?
On Facebook, we generally feel more confident about sharing our opinions or feelings, poking someone or liking someone’s status. It’s a less direct form of communication but one that has the power to reach the masses.
In fact, it has 800 million active users and the average user has 130 friends.
But most of us have probably never met many of our Facebook friends, right? But we need not feel embarrassed about telling people ‘what’s on our mind’ as we can’t see anyone and more importantly, they can’t see us.
And we can so easily connect with someone who we may have never met, or not realized that we had, simply through a comment or a post that we can relate to, understand or find amusing.
In olden day England, such interactivity was a distant dream. People of Britain in the 19th century travelled privately by car, horse and carriage or walking. Communication was via letter and telephone, once it was invented in 1876.
Family was given prime importance because that was the closest social unit. There were no means of meeting people from unreachable places far and wide across the globe.
Now, we are encouraged to connect with strangers through social media, networking agencies and ever-growing dating sites. The ways in which we travel today, whether it’s our daily commute or via the worldwide web, unintentionally brings us in contact with countless people.
Travelling whilst standing still
Maybe, we should be making the most of these assembling moments to appreciate one another and use them as reminders that the world is a bigger place than just ourselves and our own lives.
Maybe we should be taking more notice of the people who appear around us. Maybe we should be using these moments to show compassion and kindness; offer our seat, offer our help to carry heavy luggage or prams, or simply share a smile, whether it’s in person or through an emoticon: 🙂.
And maybe we should make more of an effort to spread positivity and good humour on our profiles instead of angry provocation or spite.
If we look around, we will find that most people are in search of the same thing: happiness or truth.
It doesn’t matter which corner of the globe holds the soil of our ancestral roots or which religion or school of thought we’ve joined: the final quest is universal. Some people get lost along the way, but we are all explorers of ourselves.
Travelling isn’t just about movement or getting from one point to another. It’s also about what happens when you stand still. You can come across the greatest travellers’ tales by being aware of the people and events that come to you.
Sometimes, someone’s story can take you on a journey of the mind which you would never have been able to map out yourself.
There are a lot of good-hearted people out there and many have a tale to tell. Maybe your tube carriage will be full of them on your next journey into work or town, or maybe some of them are logged into Facebook or Twitter right now…
– Monica Sarkar
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