As I began my journey home from Hampshire, I met a Big Issue seller outside of the train station. I bought a magazine from him to read on the journey and we chatted pleasantly about politics, the state of the world, global warming, and a host of other things. At a pause in our conversation, I asked him what his story was. This is what he told me.
His parents had both died six years ago, leaving him with no family at all. However, he was lucky enough to have his long-standing partner to help him through. Then two years ago she suddenly died of a heart problem aged just forty. This left him devastated and lost. As so many do, he ended up losing his work, sleeping on the streets, occasionally in a hostel, and predictably he became involved with drug taking (anything to blot out reality – he told me). But he managed to pick himself up and started selling the Big Issue, weaning himself off the destructive lifestyle he had fallen into. I felt so humbled, so admiring of his strength and fortitude and by the joy in his face when he proudly told me he was moving into his own room next week (one room!). Despite all he had suffered he still was warm, giving, and friendly. That meeting and those words exchanged made me realise how very lucky one is to have a roof over one’s head, food to eat and somewhere to call home. How lucky we all are who have that.
My journey home was horrendous blighted by delays, missed connections, standing room only for many miles and much climbing up and down stairs (the lifts weren’t working!). But throughout these minor setbacks I kept the face and the spirit of that young man foremost in my mind and realised just how trivial my own worries were and instead of railing at the setbacks I counted my blessings. There but for the grace of God! Thank you, young man.