I love it whenever I’m reminded just how small the world really is. At least when it comes to interpersonal connections. Last night was the last night of a course I’ve been helping to host called Alpha. In my small group, I happened to mention to the lady who was sat next to me that I hail from a small town called Shoreham-by-Sea. “No way!” she said, “I grew up in Shoreham!”
Now at this point I should perhaps mention that this event was taking place in the heart of Brighton, a mere few minutes drive along the coast from Shoreham, so to speak with someone who grew up in Shoreham is hardly surprising.
I told her I lived on Gordon Road for the first few years of my life and then she got really interested. “I went out with this lovely boy who lived on Gordon Road. His name was Ross.”
“No way!” I replied, “Ross Black?” (not his real name)
“Yes!” came back the by-now-excited lady.
Ross is four years older than me and was one of those young lads who had everything, or so it seemed to me. A bedroom full of amazing toys. A prolific goalscorer for the local football team; later, a great surfer and of course, a seemingly endless queue of beautiful girls, all vying for a fragment of his attention. His parents were and still are to this day, two of the sweetest people you could care to meet, and are good friends of my own parents.
But stuff like this doesn’t happen only in Brighton.
I once alighted from a train in Luxor, Egypt, sometime after midnight, having been sharing a seat with a friend as well as chickens, goats, and all kinds of other interesting characters for thirteen hours from Cairo. We decided to find somewhere to eat and then sleep. As we walked across the main square, surrounded by a dusty mini cloud kicked up by a strong breeze, I heard a voice coming towards me from behind, “Paul! Paul! Is that you mate?”
I turned around to see this guy who I had known as a kid growing up on…you guessed it…Gordon Road.
The lady from last night later spoke to the group about an elderly lady’s funeral she had attended that day and described how shocked she was at how many people had showed up. There were people from this charity she had been involved in, people who had been helped by her many years before and on and on the list could have gone on by the sound of it.
So, all that to say, you never know how much of an impact your life has had on a neighbour, an old school mate, even a relative stranger, let alone all those you actually consider as friends, family and loved ones.
When things like this occur and let’s be honest, they are pretty rare, it does make you realise we live in a small world but I want to finish by flipping that thought with this lovely old proverb:
“The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.”