Chris Markiewicz's Blog
Every Monday – thoughts, observations and ideas that hold up a mirror to who & how we are

In the words of Stephen Stills…….

Being as it’s a public holiday here in the UK, I’m feeling a tad lazy today. So, rather than write something new, I’ve posted a piece that I penned about ten years ago for a small business network newsletter:

Those of you of a similar age to me are likely to remember a song by Stephen Stills from the 1970’s called “Love the one you’re with”. The chorus featured the lines “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with”.

These lines have taken on a new resonance for me in recent years, since having to give up driving owing to my eye condition. Up until three years ago, if I wanted to see my pal Warren in Maidenhead or my friend Gerry in Loughton for example, I’d simply jump in the car and be with them within the hour. Now, it feels nigh on impossible to nip off and catch up someone on impulse like that. This can get me down, However what it is opening up for me is the opportunity to make friends and associations more locally.

Whilst I can’t shoot off to see someone at a distance, I can certainly take a stroll over the road for a cup of coffee and a natter. It seems incredibly ironic that in this day and age people will travel great distances to see friends and family, yet may never have broken bread with their next door neighbours. Being “forced” to limit my own travel has awakened me more to this irony.

Late last December, Ingrid and I posted notes through loads of neighbours’ doors inviting them to join us “at home” for New Year’s Eve. We insisted that they needn’t RSVP, preferring to be surprised by who would pitch up (if anyone!). To cut a long story short, the evening turned into one big party with people of all ages descending on our home for the evening.  A Scots neighbour of ours even turned up in full Highland regalia! The sound of Barry White reverberated all the way down our terrace as we all danced in the new year. Last to go to bed was Clara, our 6 year old daughter at 3.30am!

In past years we may have simply stayed in on our own. We will have assumed that all our neighbours were out partying when, in fact they may have also been in on their own. How’s that for lack of connection?

So, we plan to have at least a couple more “open houses” this coming summer and, no doubt another New Year’s do as well.

As an extension of this I wonder how I could develop a presence locally on a professional basis. I suppose I could look at ways of offering what I do to the local community – whether businesses or individuals/families. After all, the well known Scottish  personal development speaker Jack Black started his very successful MIndstore business by running events in his local library – it’s a thought.

I could even go the whole hog and do what the American singer Andy Williams did and have people come here for programmes from elsewhere – he actually built a theatre by his home as he’d had a belly-full of touring. People come there from all over the States and beyond to see him perform at his home. I’m not sure I could stretch to building a theatre quite yet though!

So, perhaps the way of the future is to engage more locally. As our infrastructure comes under increasing strain and those that use it also do so,  local community may well be in for a revival.

As a first step, why not give your next door neighbour a knock and invite them over for a cuppa or a bite to eat – you may make some new friends and contacts, save a few bob in petrol bills and do your bit for the  environment into the bargain.

Now, who might that be, knocking at my door?

Postscript – I needed to re-read this one after all these years. I’ve come much more to terms with my inability to shoot off in the car, but still could do much more to build those local connections!  



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