Yesterday, I took a great walk around my mom’s neighborhood (and beyond). In this area, there are always lots of people out getting exercise, so I passed quite a few folks during my hour-long adventure. I even passed someone I know I’ve seen in the movies. I said hello, she smiled and kept on going. The joy of living in L.A. 🙂
As I was going, I noticed something pretty quickly. Almost universally, every time I passed someone, they put their heads and eyes down and didn’t acknowledge me. When I’m in Maryland, people want to stop and talk, which doesn’t make for the best exercise experience, but in the end, I enjoy it. Back to my story… After a few minutes of passing these heads and eyes down people, I got to thinking. Why don’t these people acknowledge one another? Are they afraid, or just too busy with their own thoughts?
In many ways, it’s sad that we live in these times. We don’t really take the time to know our co-workers, our neighbors, or maybe even our friends. We all swim in a big pond of superficiality, just hoping to make it to the other side without getting hurt/discouraged/invested. Is that the way things are supposed to be?
After about ten minutes of walking, I decided in my mind that I’d acknowledge every person, regardless of whether I got a response. It felt good to do it, since I guess it was more about me than about them.
And then, it happened. When I was nearly back at my mom’s house, I had to cross a major intersection. Coming from the opposite direction was someone who appeared to be a homeless woman, carrying her possessions in two big bags. As we were about to pass each other, I put my own head and eyes down. When we were side by side, she looked at me and said hello.
Here I was judging everybody else, and just when it was my turn to step to the plate, I struck out. This was a valuable lesson for me, and I hope you might turn it in to one for you too.
Let’s not be so tough on others without looking at ourselves as well. When I’m out for my walk today, I hope I can be a bit more consistent with my smiles and hellos. For somebody that I pass, it might be the only acknowledgment they get.