London can be a lonely place… I should know, I spent 10 years living in the city and still felt as if I was a stranger just passing through.
Nowhere on the planet does the invisible veil of human separation seem so thick than in her streets...
Security cameras on every other street corner monitor each move that we make. Cab drivers peer at us through bullet proof glass and supermarket attendants don’t seem to notice us at all.
But it’s actually underneath the city on its overcrowded circuit of train tunnels called the tube where this feeling of isolation deepens. (Just try exchanging pleasantries down there next time you’re in town and you’ll see what I mean.)
As hard as it is for any normal person to make friends on the platform or indeed inside one of the trains, it actually becomes much, much harder when you appear to be mentally challenged to the outside world…
It was a sweltering Saturday in London, the day I met Kathryn.
I first saw her at a distant. The most obvious thing that I noticed about her was the trail of uncomfortable expressions that followed her along the carriage as she went from person to person attempting to make some kind of human connection.
Soon enough she arrived by my seat and our eyes locked for the first time. Staring deep inside my soul, she asked me if I would like to buy something she had written. I have to admit there was a part of me that was extremely curious about what she had to share. I peered into my wallet, removed a solitary £10 note and gave it to her. She gave me a blue piece of paper with handwriting scrawled upon it and then I invited her to take the empty seat next to me.
In our brief encounter, Kathryn told me about her life.
She told me that she lived in a mental hospital in North London and how most people that she seemed to meet in this city thought she was crazy. She told me about the trials and tribulations of her life. For the most part I sat silently, listening to her every word as I tried to make sense of her life and indeed our chance encounter.
As captivated as I was by our connection, before long I was in the awkward position of having to explain to her that my stop was the next. Her anguish was immediate and indeed so was mine. I said my goodbye and wished her luck as I made my way from the train. As I was just about to step through the doors I looked back over my shoulder and offered her a parting smile. She replied by remarking “All I am really trying to do here on earth is find all my friends.”
Moments later I found myself standing on the platform alone.
Kathryn’s words were still ringing in my ears “All I am really trying to do here on earth is find all my friends.” My eyes glassed over as I realised that it was probably the most profound statement that I had ever heard.
In that simple sentence and in her own unique and beautifully unassuming style, she had articulated the deepest desire of all humanity.
And then I remembered the blue sheet of paper in my hands.
I read through her scrawlings, to get to the essence of what she was trying to communicate. Although her sentences were a disjointed, her message was clear.
This is what she had written…
“I bet I can read what’s going through your mind, when I’m coming up to you. Oh no not again. And that is the only problem. I don’t know why it is happening. It’s mental painful. Some-one dreams have been a part of a life, working on how or what context. As long as someone’s dreams are enflamed within them, that Spiritual Spirit will automatically move you towards others which too has the same gift. Also remember it’s your Dream if you some-how no how to“.
St Lukes Hospital
(See the original letter to the right...)
I often think about that chance encounter with Kathryn.
It was if an angel had tapped me on the shoulder to gently remind me of what life is really all about.
I now realise that if I’d been attached to the form of the message or indeed the messenger, I may not have received the gift at all…