The wave

 

Terry and I moved several years ago. And, as it does, it took some time to get used to the rhythms and surroundings and people in our new hometown. You understand the ideaÖ

Neighbors, for instance. As the days and weeks pass, you begin to learn what time lawns get mowed, when to expect the mail to arrive, where the pools and gardens and children reside, and the general way of life surrounding you. You might say hello across the street, or perhaps exchange visits. Once, we heard the doorbell ring, and we were treated to a delivery of honey from a couple that raise bees on their property.

We have a friend that weíve never met. I believe we may have said hello once or more, but Iím not certain. But these days we wave in greeting all the time.

It started not long after we arrived. She was walking her dogs, happened to be approaching the end of our driveway as I was arriving home, and we made eye contact as I waited for her and her companions to clear the entrance so I could pull the car off the road. That eye contact led to a moment where we both smiled, nodded, and waved.

Simple. But funny things can happen from simple.

As I said, it was early in our new place. We were still getting used to things. Do you have people walking and jogging and moving around near you? Kids playing games on summer evenings, perhaps? Someone that is out exercising and passes your home at the same time every day?

It might take you a while to notice it happening, but we tend to be creatures of habit. And the same way someoneís schedule allows them to be riding a bicycle past your house each day around noon might just match up with your routine of heading out to check on the mail. And once you notice it, seems like you canít stop noticing it.

Once that wave of acknowledgement ice had been broken with her, Terry and I began seeing our dog walking friend several times a week. Perhaps it was us, or maybe she recognized our car, but even if we were off by a bit and passing further down the road, the smiles and waves became a regular occurrence.

Now, that I believe we may have said hello comment. Since I havenít had a chance to be introduced to the dogs, I try to give her a bit of space when she passes our house. No need to get them all worked up. Nor has a deep conversation ever been initiated. But every so often, Iíll be out mowing the lawn or checking for something in the car or just doing something as she arrives on her daily walk. And Iím fairly certain that we may have said hello on occasion.

The trick here is thisÖ we like having her walk by. Itís not something Terry and I would put down on some list of major features of the house, but it adds to our sense of community. It feels right to have people that seem to recognize you, and that you recognize, that also seem fine with your presence even though you have no real relationship of any kind. Itís like that pleasant person and a door held open. They either smile and thank you, or you smile and thank them. You may never meet again, but the day just seems slightly better because of a nice moment.

A few years ago at work, I decided to try something. I thought it was going to be absolute hogwash, if Iím being honest. For this reason or that, I came up with the idea of trying to make eye contact as often as possible with people, smiling and then saying hello.

Yes, what you just thought is almost certainly exactly what I was thinking as I started. This was basically just going to be a generic thing. Nothing too adventurous. I wasnít going to interrupt meetings, knock on cubicle walls, or deliberately seek out as many co-workers as I could find. Nope. Simple stuff. Instead of looking at the floor while I walked down a hallway (or doing whatever I could to look busy and give off a do not bother me vibe), I would purposely try to connect with folks.

Quite quickly, I actually found myself feeling a bit better. I felt less frustrated or stressed by the events of the day. I wasnít investing any significantly increased amount of time with people, but I felt more connected and engaged.

I was happier.

Which brings me back to our dog walking friend.

Iíve never officially been introduced. I donít know here name, and likely never will. But I wave every time I see her, and she waves back. My day is a little bit better as a result.

 

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com