Dear Inquisitive Stranger,
Isn’t it just wonderful that “a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle”?
James Keller’s marvellous quote is so honest that it became an instant paraphrase smash hit.
Mrs Foley, my formidable year 6 teacher, dispatched the candle light nugget on her bright-eyed class of young ladies, thus becoming the go-to quote in my citation repertoire. I started to drop that chestnut whenever possible:
A teacher fetched a runaway ball. I yelled it in a playground drive-by.
My brother unexpectedly lent me his beloved roller-blades. Dropped it.
The lady leaving WHSmith held the door open with a smile. I vocalised.
Gran cut me an extra large slice of Wall’s Viennetta. Boom.
Whether used in the correct context was irrelevant to 10 year-old me. I was putting it out there and I believed in it.
Decades later and it still resonates. I just no longer feel it mandatory to tenuously shoehorn it into every exchange. Yet, maybe I should. People repeat great quotes because of their potent truth. These words remind us that spreading some niceness into the world doesn’t cost us diddly.
I am reminded of my favourite childhood quote during today’s visit to ‘Cafe aA’. Peaking at -16C, it is a very unwarm day in Seoul so I am festooned in cold-combating layers. Putting on enough thermals and knitwear to forget what your feet look like is arduous enough. Disrobing when you resemble a ball is a ball ache. Once the process is complete and sensation returns to my arm and leg terminals, I swiftly forget the frigid conditions recently endured by ordering the chilly promise: ‘Kahula Cinnamon Ice’. This is my most daredevil stunt to date.
The frosty drink arrives and with it is an unexpected offering, a stowaway perhaps. The tangerine is a premeditated gift which I find endearing. Yes, I am a marketing man’s dream – give the girl a fruit freebie and she’s under your spell!
Yet this casual citrus gift encourages me to consider the silent power of thoughtfulness.
Cue the Pinterest quotes. …
“Better to be the smiler than the one who doesn’t smile back”. Classic.
“You will never regret being kind“. Damn straight.
“Be a pineapple: stand tall, wear a crown and be sweet on the inside”. Right on!
The X Files was right. The truth is out there.
I would like to share another Keller quote added to my repository in recent years. “We need more (people) who are interested in lighting candles and fewer who blow them out.” This guy must have received many unexpected tangerines in his time.
So my lovely Stranger, I bid you adieu and hope you go find some candles then light them up with your radiant smiles and thoughtfulness.
Peace and love and cha cha cha.
Cafe aA at the aA Design Museum – treasure hunt challenge: find the chair donated by Big Bang’s T.O.P. somewhere on the premise
408-11, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Monday – Friday 12:00 – 23:00, Saturday – Sunday 12:00 – 23:30
Hello friend. This letter was stashed in ‘Cafe aA’ for a stranger to find. I hope it brought some warmth on this chilly day. I hope it inspired the finder to consider the value of thoughtfulness. I hope it was found by you! If so, do get in touch and share your stories of citrus inspiration.
Perhaps you did not find the letter but you found this blog when searching for pictures of tangerines on the internet. I’d love to hear from you too!
With kindness and care,