One day, I was sitting in my favourite local cafe in Malta (Creme Cafe in Naxxar - a bustling place of Maltese conversations, books, delicious coffee and amazing raw vegan cakes). I was busy writing, as it is the sort of cafe that inspires writing, when someone with an unfamiliar but radiant face approached me and my then six month old baby. It wasn’t so much what this woman said - questions and compliments about baby Dorothy no less - but the warmth with which she spoke. There was such openness, encouragement and interest, in a quantity and degree of sincerity that we rarely encounter in everyday life - and certainly not from strangers. There was no wistful nostalgia or maternal affection that sometimes come from an older woman when meeting a new baby, either. This woman was my age, and her manner was characterised by a friendliness that is born of love, not reminiscence.
But beyond the beautiful qualities she demonstrated, what really struck me was how happy I felt after this random interaction. It reminded me in very real terms of how enriching everyday life can be when we connect with each other. Brief conversations, helpful gestures, and words of encouragement all go a long way in making our world better. They are not isolated, lost good deeds; they change the dynamic, the pace, and the atmosphere around us immediately. This is especially true for mothers who are living in an often intense, emotional, exhausted and open-hearted state every minute; it is both refreshing and affirming to have someone engage with you positively about your child and your motherhood.
The brief, animated conversation also showed me that, in a society of reserve, it is possible to cultivate a higher level of interaction in any space, at any time, with immediate effect. For some, it comes more naturally, of course. But we can all do it - simply by coming out of a state of introversion and into one of connection and expression. If someone looks beautiful, why not tell them? If someone looks lost, why not offer help? Can we try and move beyond jokey one-liners to passing strangers, and start having actual conversations? Our shared humanity will surely become a lot more apparent if we do…
This isn’t meant to be an essay or an article or a story. It’s barely enough for a blog post, really. It is more like a vignette; a small recording of something personal. But it is also a point of connection to anyone who reads it, just as the woman above created a point of connection with me. Sometimes, I think, we need to highlight the little things in order to realise that there is actually so much goodness around us.