I’m rarely on the bypass at that time of night, stopping and starting, bumper to headlight. I always remember my sister’s advice. ‘There’s nothing you can do about it,’ she said, circa 1997, ‘just listen to the music, and chill.’
Suddenly, there was a blue light, flashing behind. How on earth would they get through all this? Thankful that I was passing a place to pull in, it managed past me.
As the car behind me pulled in too, I noticed that the car behind that had already done so.
These selfless acts reminded me. People are kind and thoughtful. Society does work. Most people – even people in a traffic jam – care.
Then the cars in front peeled off to each side, like a pulled thread, we were joined in a communal goal. And together, we let the ambulance through.
I’ve just turned right at that corner that is so sharp that a right turn is literally straight on. There’s a tractor up ahead.
Not particularly noteworthy, I live in the country, and it’s harvest time. I love everything about living in the country including tractors: graceful giants, with almost-always friendly drivers, happy to wave back when they pass my son in the street.
This tractor has a fetching swivel-orange light. Like a siren. But orange. I slow down, but keep coming.
The tractor flicks its lights to full beam and back. Oh.
I slow down further.
The tractor flashes its lights brightly, strongly. I stop the car at the side of the road.
The tractor passes. It’s not a particularly wide load.
What was that all about?
Driving on, I realise. And switch my own headlights off full beam.
Today I have been thinking about…holidays.
for these tinylifers
no carry-on suitcases.
No guaranteed sun.
No twenty-four-hour shopping.
No unlimited broadband,
No nightlife. No crowds.
(well, after two
bought in Lerwick).
the ferry took us
We said yes to rain,
and snatching each precious moment of sun as it arrived:
yes to sand.
We said yes to peaceful
puffins and seals and ponies with foals and
trying to spot the otter.
We said yes to a different
pace of life,
to revisiting memories
We said yes to bannocks,
homemade oatcakes and
scallops scooped out of the
sea that morning.
We said yes to a break
from the in-tray,
the writing deadline,
and the laundry basket.
Stella has a “tinylife”. Being the competitive older sister, mine is huge.
In 15 years, I’ve lived in Vietnam, Azerbaijan, Indonesia and Denmark. Huge cultural differences: the giant challenge of uprooting and restarting. Each time, appreciating tiny acts… the stranger’s offer of help, the smile on the street.
My spread of friends is huge: they circle the globe and I have ambitious plans to visit. For now, I simply share their Facebook lives, enjoying the tiny Like which says “we are on different continents now but I still care about you”.
Summers typically involve a huge UK trip: we search out tinyness, relishing the glorious sameness of family homes and traditions.
Every year offers huge challenges, tiny triumphs. Every day is spent hoping to make a huge difference through tiny actions.
My “huge” versus Stella’s “tiny”? Not so different after all.