My friend Joan Schaublin, who I have actually not yet met face to face and hug to hug, but no less heart to heart, had posted something on her Facebook page this morning about her adventure in the grocery store. It sounded remarkably like those I have on a regular basis, not limited to aisles, but happen everywhere I go. She described chatting people up as she passed by; commenting positively on their attire, about tapping trees for maple syrup, smiling as she placed items in her cart in preparation for her housemate’s birthday celebration. I know that she made their day and they made hers. It works like that.
When my son was younger, he would ask why I would say hello to nearly everyone I passed and stopped to talk to some and smile at all of them. Besides being genetic (my father would do the same thing), I told him it was because they are in my world and that’s how we make friends. He often rolled his eyes and tell me I was weird. He had the hardest time when I would interact with young children, saying that I would scare them. These days (he’s 27), he knows better than to ask, but still shakes his head at his strange mother.
Our world is filled with worry and wonder. It is our predominant choice of which way to view it that shapes our interactions. I prefer to see the good in people and so I greet them as if we are all in this together. I reinforce the beauty and strength I see in them, commenting on those qualities. When I witness a child being helpful, I thank them. When I notice an adult doing something kind, I thank them. When I see magic happening, I add to it. When sometime dresses in an eclectic manner, I comment on their color and creativity. I hug strangers and pet animals (with consent of both the two leggeds and four leggeds).
I am a consummate people watcher and listener. They fascinate me. One of my favorite lines from the classic movie Harold and Maude occurs when 79 year old Maude is playing a pinball machine, surrounded by a group of folks, most young enough to be her grandchildren. Harold is watching this and afterward comments how good she is with people. Her wise response is “They’re my species.’ I feel the same way. Sometimes I relate, sometimes I do still feel like I am an anthropologist sent from another planet observing the strange goings on and reporting back, like another cinematic character Starman.
Today, my invitation to you is to smile at, greet and engage in conversation with at least 3 people, starting with the one in the mirror and see what a difference it makes in the world.