Conversations over Coffee

Conversations with Strangers

When I first thought about this post I had an idea in my mind to slip away for an afternoon, camera in hand and walk through my beautiful city. I wanted to capture images of strangers going about their everyday life. There is a certain beauty in this everyday life that we can often overlook in our own lives. Sash from Inked in Colour did something similar a while back and her post was to be my inspiration.

Then busy became the new normal in this house again and I postponed last month’s Conversation over Coffee. In that time something shifted. To capture the beauty of everyday life faded in significance to what was happening in this everyday life. A thread of sadness had weaved its way into everyday life. Perhaps this thread has always been there. Yet this last month everywhere I looked all I could see was this thread.

Seeing strangers, in situations of horror, tragedy and sadness has overwhelmed me. It has been hard to switch off from the unrelenting news reports. The stories of a plane and a missile are stories that shred the human spirit. Boats and people seeking refuge, held captive at sea rock with inhumanity. Children dead on beaches in airstrikes scream the screams that should not be happening. Husbands killing wives, next door and down the street. Humanity has lost its way.

Conversations with Strangers

You may argue that humanity has been losing its way for a long time. There have been world wars, wars on terror, mass shootings and people locked in basements for years. We argue over gender, we argue over race, we argue over sexuality, we argue over power. Perhaps it is never going to change. Yet, these news reports and the brutal and shocking images have left me with nothing but heart break.

In one way you could say that I have a choice. I could switch off from the tragedy. Stop it from coming through into my life. But you see even when I do choose to switch off I cannot escape this lingering, twisting thread and the sadness that hangs in the air. For my head may be heavy, but my heart is heavier knowing that so much suffering in the lives of strangers is happening in our world today.

In their suffering I feel powerless. I feel extinguished. Part of me wants to scream out that any of us can let this happen, let alone those who should govern. Another part of me cowers knowing that in time we will forget. Our social media will offer us our insignificant happiness and again we will take it.

Conversations with Strangers

So where I wanted to capture the beauty of strangers and their everyday, instead I sit and I ache in their grief. The sorrow and torment that strangers face in their everyday is the only conversation I have. Even in our silence the conversation still takes place. The beauty of our everyday coexists with the tragedy of our everyday. One is just as real as the other.


The next Conversations over Coffee link will open on
Thursday August 28, 2014

Hope you are inspired by next month’s theme ~
Conversations with Colour ~ everyone is welcome x

  • Renee at Mummy, Wife, Me

    Beautifully said, Josefa. I know that sadness you feel and that overwhelming feeling of powerlessness – I think we all do to some degree. I too want to scream at the world. What can we do to help? Tragedy and devastation surrounds us and it can be all consuming. I recently wrote about the Kenyan Safe House Rafiki Mwema. Everytime I hear stories about those girls my heart breaks a little more. If only we could do more to help, but we can’t help everyone.

  • LydiaCLee

    I hear you loud and clear on this, however, I take light in those that make a difference, and am setting about making a difference myself – or at least trying to. Humanity has lost its way, but it’s our responsibility to help others find it. There is a quote that I get emailed as the sign off from a scientist acquaintance – ‘There are no passengers on spaceship earth, only crew’. So we need to find our role in the world…
    Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little. Edmund Burke

  • Sash @ Inked in Colour

    I have to believe that the change is coming, and it is. We all have the power to change the world. With ourselves. With our children. Our job is to do the best we can, with whta we’ve got… To give what we can. To connect how we can. To teach our children love and compassion and generosity by showing them what it is to live in that way… despite what can be quite a cruel world that seems to billow around us. We have the power to change it! x I still firmly believe there are far more good people on this earth than bad… x

  • Saw a beautiful quote in a church window yesterday: May our grief for tragedies around the world inspire us to work for justice and peace. Beautiful. We really can make a difference although we feel powerless and insignificant. x

  • PreschoolMummy

    Beautiful post, josefa.

    Being a very sensitive and emotional soul (as my husband tells me), I often take news events and tragedies on board and ponder them in the wee hours of the morning, but it’s important not to get bogged down in these sadnesses. I’m not saying we need to overlook them or sweep them under the rug, the collective grief is important.

    When a stranger does me an act of kindness, I feel a light in my heart. If I think of it this way, the tragic events of the news affect large quantities of people, but the small kindnesses we all do one another only affect one or two people, so maybe we all or it to the world to be much kinder on a personal level, and maybe then we can balance the sadness a little. X

  • oh Josefa. I am so sorry that you are feeling everyone’s pain so intimately. I think that you are unable to switch off from the suffering of strangers, is an indication of a deeper personal pain that you are yet unable to name or face. In time, you’ll find your strength again. In the meantime, be gentle with your poor sensitive self. xS

  • I have had to turn off Josefa or risk being overwhelmed by sadness. It shook me days afterwards and I wrote about it, and couldn’t shake my sadness, bad mood but I have had to put it away for another day. Lovely words xx

  • I feel the same way. There has always been horror in the world but now it is so confronting on so many levels because of the media, social media in particular. Imagine if we’d been in the same technological age during the holocaust or the major wars and famines of Africa. Would the world have been able to claim ignorance then? It makes us all accountable and hopefully pushes us to do something even if it is just something kind in our own home.

  • Josefa, I was like you, a few years ago now, then I realised I needed to shut it all out and go into my little bubble with my little family. Yes. I am now ignorant (though it is very hard to avoid the state of the world) but it means I am a happier wife and happier mother, and a happier self. With each tragedy, I feel for the mothers and children involved. I mourn for them, I pray for them. But for them, I also treasure what life I am fortunate to have. Forever grateful for the life I am fortunate to have.

  • Hi Josefa! Such a hearfelt post. These words have touched me, thank you. “The beauty of our everyday coexists with the tragedy of our everyday. One is just as real as the other.” x

  • I’ve been thinking a lot about these things too lately Josefa. I wish there were clear answers, but right now I just keep coming up with more questions.

  • Loree

    Very beautiful Josefa – as always. I always try to shut out the world’s sadness, but it’s always there, hovering in the air.

  • It is so hard to switch off from the sadness everywhere, isn’t it.

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