I got a message from a friend of mine last week, asking if I wanted any oranges. Although he didn’t call them oranges, he called them onjees… because that’s what Bo calls them. He’d picked a bunch from the trees out on his parents property and had more than he and his little dude could consume on their own. A bag of oranges arrived a few days later, along with a brown paper bag of locally grown avocados and cups of coffee. It starts as a simple exchange, in return I cook a warm meal and invite them to stay for dinner.
The oranges are far too many for us to eat alone. We blend them into smoothies and take a large jar of fresh orange juice to another friend when we catch up at the library. The kids are throwing plastic dinosaurs at each other and singing at the top of their lungs. My friend tucks her juice into her bag and waves me away into the quiet adult part of the library, alone. She sits with the kids and I run my fingers quietly along the spines of books – drinking in the quiet and choosing a few books that I can just open and fall into, all alone. Ten minutes of silence later and I have two books in my bag that will whisk me away to other lands when the sun goes down… I go back to reality after a moment, feeling a little refreshed.
The next day we take a small bag of the oranges to Bo’s school to share with the kids. An alternative school out in the bush, where the kids swim in the mud and chew on sticks and leave filthy and tired and happy. This school has offered so much to our family, it has given us community, it has given us love. I was tired that morning, I hadn’t slept well. I didn’t really feel like going. But the oranges, I didn’t know if they’d last another week (and Bo was climbing the walls), so we went. School is always wonderful. The school morning ended in an impromptu trip out to the farm we were living on, where a hot pot of soup was waiting for us. We ate and played with puppies and fed chickens and told stories of our weeks apart.
All of a sudden I didn’t feel so tired any more.
I took the last of the oranges with me to work yesterday… I work in a brightly coloured little office that sits in the middle of a hub of community minded organisations. I shared oranges and conversation, we shared laughter and stories and our day.
Every exchange or transaction has the potential for meaningful connection. Whether we use money or we trade or we share… We are connecting with another human being. Sometimes it’s someone we know. Sometimes it’s not.
Connection has the power to make a bad day good, it has the power to lift us up and make us laugh and, even if just for a moment, make us feel like we belong. When we take and take and horde, things go bad. Things go to waste. Fruit and feelings don’t last forever.
Oranges. Happiness. Stories… Are always better shared.