The voice came from somewhere behind my left ear. I looked round and found myself face-to-face with a tall thin stranger.
We were on the London Underground, Saturday lunchtime, packed in the July heat with all the other travellers and tourists, en route with the girls to Hammersmith for a show. Their first time in London.
The stranger gestured around him at all the people sitting and standing, pressed up against each other, physically so close, trying so hard to be apart. "This, eh? What would Sartre make of it?"
"Yeah, crazy." I ventured. "And hot too."
"I think it's a shame people don't talk to each other on the tube," he went on.
"Er, me too."
And then I had a choice. I could revert back to the old me, the me who'd lived in London all those years, who'd carefully honed his defences to avoid having to make contact with the people around him, the me that would keep his eyes firmly fixed on the middle distance, and his mouth firmly shut. Or, the new me, the me I'm still growing into, the one finding different ways of looking at the world. The me in transition. I made my choice.
"So," I began, "where are you off to today?"
And we started to talk. He was on holiday and off to visit his parents in Devon; they owned a place there, he said, with some acres of mixed woodland. And there, in the heart of London, on a baking hot day, in the tube under Oxford Circus, the busiest shopping street in England, two complete strangers talked about trees, about nature, about biodiversity and forest management. About Europe's ancient woodlands, and about how much we loved trees.
Two stops later, we arrived at our station, said goodbye and we went our separate ways.
Sartre famously said "Hell is other people". I think he was wrong. And I think that community is not just about the people who live in the neighbourhood around your house. It's something you carry around inside you.
Welcome to the "official"blog of Transition Norwich, part of the world-wide Transition movement, a community-led response to peak oil , climate change and the economic recession.
Our TN blog is designed to showcase the Transition experience, from those who are living it - its highs and lows, challenges and treasures. We began this community enterprise in October 2009, inspired by the work of the Transition Circles, and have been charting our low-carbon lives almost daily since then. In June 2012 the group of contributors began to post more occasionally (about once or twice a week). We also cross-post work from other Transition initiatives.
You can find the full range of subjects we cover in our Labels list (see below). Do feel free to join in the conversation in the comments box. We'd love to hear from you!