In the last few days, I have met a wide variety of new, interesting people. A night club bouncer, an actor who teaches Latin and Greek in his spare time, a woman whose Mother country is in deep distress, a pensioner who does voluntary work in an Old Peoples' home 7 days a week. Everybody has a story to tell.
I have also heard a lot of lovely singing in preparation for Christmas. the presenter of a concert we went to, told us about the great discrepancies in our society, how beneath all the glitter of Christmas there is so much suffering.
You just have to read the papers or read the teletext to see what heartache there is all around, every day. Christmas seems to heighten joy and suffering at the same time.
I was sitting listening to the beautiful Christmas songs, nothing can put joy in your heart so quickly as music and singing, reflecting on the immense and rich variety of human lives. the hugely different circumstances of people all over the world.
In many professions people can be easily seen to be making an active difference to the quality of people's lives. Firemen, nurses, ambulance drivers, policeman, They all deserve great admiration and constant recognition of the wonderful job they do. they need help too, though.
I applied to be a Physiotherapist, once , and on the application form, it said you had to have a very stable and happy life to be able to cope with such a career.
A friend of mine who is a nurse in a Paraplegic ward , says they couldn't manage without the volunteers who come in to help at meal times.
I know so many people who do admirable voluntary work. They can save lives, give hope and comfort and make people feel less alone.
When you go on an aeroplane they always say "in the unlikely event of the plane having to land on water, put your own life jacket on before helping others". This isn't a selfish act, it's essential.
To help other people you can't really afford to be in danger yourself.
So let's all try and put our life jackets on, whatever that means to each of us, so we can help those around us.