Today I feel so conflicted about the post which I had intended writing, for now I will tell a different yet not entirely unrelated story. Yesterday my dear friend Karin took me to visit Leoni, a gracious lady in her 80’s. Leoni is a mutual friend of ours, I met Leoni through her family and Karin met her at the Shakespeare society. Leoni still lives on her own, teaches piano and has a delightful mind. Something makes her special, something inspires respect, something makes me feel honoured to be in her company.
After our visit Karin and I mused on what makes Leoni stand above others, what makes her shine? What makes her a desert flower? Our conclusion was that Leoni is sincere, she has a real interest in the people and world around her. She has a mind which reaches outward not inward. She makes us feel that we have value in her eyes.
After Nelson Mandela died in almost every interview with those who had met him, I heard the same thing over and over. Mandela looked people in the eye, he remembered names from fleeting encounters, he made people feel that they mattered. Through respecting others he inspired respect.
People like Leoni and Karin share something of Mandela’s qualities which makes them shine, it is a shifting light, hard to pin down but clear in essence. They are not sappy weak characters, they are strong-minded individuals, they are caring, curious and have generous spirits.
My evening (the potential conflicted post) stood in stark contrast to the company of Karin and Leoni. I found myself in a group of creative, intelligent people. Many have much to offer but their indifference to others and unwillingness to interact left me cold. Is this the selfie culture? The me, me, me mindset?
The Leonis and Karins of this world are a rare breed who inspire my respect. As the world grows darker and colder by degrees, I hold my hands out to warm at their fire, they bring me a blanket and warm cocoa, they look me in the eyes, we share our stories and wait for a new dawn.