I took over a jar of canned tomatoes and a bottle of wine to my friends next door as a thank you. They had stood vigil all day as my boat washed up on the beach and I wasn’t around. What’s great is I didn’t even ask, they just took matters into their own hands. “It’s what neighbours do”, was the modest response to the gifts.

I am surrounded by people. Sometimes it’s a temporary thing like at a coffee shop or in traffic, and others it’s more permanent like at home. But, I often live like I am on my own. I don’t regard all those around me as neighbours, they’re mostly strangers.

A friend was telling me about an exercise she did in her Psychology class. They were to put up their hand every time they had a judgment about someone else in the room. The result being a lot of arms in the air a lot of the time.

I judge, compare, compete with, or fear far more than I welcome those I don’t know.

Another friend told the story about a time when, commuting home by bike, he got into an impromptu, unspoken race with another cyclist. They silently battled for position across the bridge, until the other guy cut off my friend and they both crashed. I totally related.

I want to act like the folks next door. Just step up and respond with kindness . Whether that’s for them, or for that driver in traffic. I’d like to expand my definition of neighbour.

The boat’s a write off, but I am feeling pretty great about the people who live beside us. Just imagine what they’ll be like if we have a real problem.