This week has already been busy yet its only Wednesday. Perhaps its true that time speeds up as we get older 😉 I’m not sure how I worked full-time, studied part-time, had a family, ran a home and travelled extensively while still finding time for the odd TV programme. Somehow I managed to squash it all in to 168 hours a week for the past 20 years… maybe that’s why I have wrinkles and white hair?!
I’m prone to packing as much as possible into the time available and I’ve been this way for longer than I care to remember. The volume of activities occupying my life are largely of my own doing. I could’ve given up studying, been less committed to my career or switched my phone off every night but I’m fairly sure I’d have found other ways to occupy my time. I’m fairly sure that my desire to live each day to the full stems from being very aware that reaching retirement isn’t something everyone gets to do. If I’m one of those people I want to make sure I haven’t wasted too much time slobbing about when I could’ve been doing something useful.
My train journey on Monday was meant to be an uneventful opportunity to catch up on some reading and start researching education technologies in more depth. As it happened the train was delayed by over 45 minutes and I gained a companion for much of the journey. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that I’m a middle-aged woman, look unlikely to rob anyone or that I appear to know how to deal with technology that makes me seem non-threatening to elderly women travelling alone. Whatever it is I don’t mind because I’m quite happy to sit and talk to older women as a means to pass the journey for both of us. This week was no exception.
An elderly lady joined me at Oxford and we spent the rest of the journey holding an impromptu lesson on how to get the best from an iPad, how to join train or other WiFi services and options for mobile connectivity. The lady was 81 years old. She told me she was paying (a rather large sum) for weekly one-to-one lessons from Apple. After an hour and a half on the train she said she’d gained far more from our time together and thanked me for helping her. She wanted to know how I managed to get through life this way, giving up my time to complete strangers whilst neglecting whatever I needed to do. She wanted to know how I could go through life being so kind.
The lady’s observations threw me a little. I don’t find helping strangers unusual and if sharing some knowledge makes another person’s life easier then so much the better. I would like to think that if I’m old and in need of assistance one day someone will devote a little time to help me. I smiled at the lady and told her I come from a family where helping others is part of our DNA; we grew up knowing kindness costs nothing yet makes a world of difference. I helped her take her suitcase from the train, wished her a pleasant day and was about to set off to meet friends for lunch when the lady stopped me. She said she still found it hard to see how I get through life being so kind to others and asking nothing in return. I told her it was my pleasure, no trouble at all (I was just sharing knowledge after all) and wished her well. Making her happy, a little more technology-aware and receiving her words of thanks were reward enough for me 🙂