The past 12 months might go down in history as a ’selfie’ year; Selfie with a capital ’S’. We take endless photographs of ourselves, our faces, our bodies, our food and our clothes and send them round willy nilly to our kith and kin, who send us back selfies of themselves. ’Our’ and ’My’ follow closely behind: my child, my house, my garden, my books and our children, our house, our garden, our books. It’s like a wicker-work table top – all the circles concentrating to a focal point: me.
January is New Year, the time when we resolve to better ourselves. Again, the focus is on me. What about, instead, seeking to better our neighbours? Get the address book out and go methodically down the names of those we know who live on their own. Then think of what might possibly be a cheery anecdote or appropriate message to send to that person.
Do I mean a Robert Baden-Powell kind of boy-scout or girl-scout message? Well, yes and no. We, the sender, must know the recipient well and the appropriateness of the message is all important. It might be an offer: “Can I do some shopping for you?” sent to a person who lives a long way from the shops. “It would be a pleasure – you know how I enjoy shopping!” It might be: “Terrible weather, isn’t it? Can I pop in with a cake and we can have a cup of tea and catch up?” sent to an old person who hasn’t been able to get out. Or to a person recently bereaved, and sometimes even more to a person whose loved-one died a year ago and is no longer protected by sensitive relatives: “There’s nothing like sharing sorrow. Would it help if I came to visit and we shared our feelings?”
It seems to me that January could be a month to lend others a helping hand.