Most of us no longer live and work in real communities, where we know most people we encounter. We are often in close proximity to strangers, in shops, and buses and streets. So we have learnt to close ourselves off from others, to march along in our own bubbles of protection, increased these days by constant use of mobile phones/handsets with music etc.

This may be useful sometimes – when we are in a hurry, when we’re feeling irritable. A lot of the time, it means we lose out. We miss the beautiful flower in perfect bloom, the lovely architecture in a quiet corner. We miss the smile or brief greeting from people we pass. We miss the chance encounter with someone who asks us for directions or comments on the weather, and maybe has more of a conversation with us, if we are open.

None of these things take anything away from us – they all add a little extra pleasure to our day. And they cost us nothing but a few moments of our time.

It is easy to say this, sitting in a courtyard in Provence, on holiday, with lots of people passing by, so plenty of time and opportunity to practice! And sometimes we all need to close down for a while.

And sometimes, being open to the world around us will significantly enhance our day – just for a while..

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