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On Human Dignity and Shared Experiences

I had afternoon tea yesterday.

I had afternoon tea with a stranger.

I met this stranger because I had afternoon tea yesterday at Patisserie Valerie, where tea is only served for two, in St. Pancras International Railway Station.

Because the seating area at Patisserie Valerie is open to the rest of the station, I shared afternoon tea for two with a stranger who was asking customers for spare change.

I shared tea because my heart was softened when the woman my stranger first approached shared some of her money with her and treated her with kindness; and because I am learning to listen to my intuition and to not be trapped in the clutches of habit and comfort, fear of change, and self-consciousness of my own ignorance.

I shared conversation and a meal with a stranger and found that each person shares the same human essence, irrespective of background or choices or luck.

I shared tea with a lovely woman not much older than I, who also has dreams and aspirations; who wants to learn and to be a good person; who admires French fashion and notices beauty; who realizes that hardship allows you to appreciate the good things more; who accepts responsibility for her choices.

I had afternoon tea yesterday with a woman who has lived in London nearly all her life but didn’t know what afternoon tea was; who had never experienced delicate foods served in an artful way and who wasn’t afraid to admit her ignorance or to be vulnerable with a stranger.

I had afternoon tea with a lovely woman who thanked me for sharing my food and not my money, because the money she begs she uses to feed her heroin addiction; a woman who seems to have lost nearly everything and whose world currently consists of other people in the same situation – yet who doesn’t complain, and who exhibits so much basic goodness, like generosity, gratitude, and the desire to help others.

I shared afternoon tea yesterday with a beautiful and interesting woman who has managed to retain her humanity despite her conditions and choices. I had never met a heroin addict before. I didn’t know that she would be so much like me.

I don’t know if she will remember sharing tea with me; but I will never forget her.

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Phoenix photo credit: https://wall.alphacoders.com/big.php?i=104284