When I lived in Guelph I did most of my daily walks on trails. I said “good morning’ to anyone who passed but mostly I just kept to myself, listened to music and trucked on. At Hope Bay (my summer paradise) I mostly walk on the (one and only) road. I listen to music, truck on, say good morning to anyone I pass AND I wave at any vehicle that drives by. Any vehicle. Sometimes I know the driver, sometimes I don’t and sometimes I’m not sure. But I smile and wave regardless. It just seems like the friendly, neighbourly thing to do.
When I landed back in Meaford full-time last October I split my walks between the Georgian trail and the streets. And on those streets (sidewalks, actually) I trucked and listen to music and didn’t wave at anyone.
I did not wave at anyone.
I have no idea why.
Sure, it’s a bigger (and more populous) place than Hope Bay. I never would have dreamed of random waving in Guelph (unless some attentive driver cut a wide berth to avoid killing me) and I guess I just didn’t dream of random waving here. These drivers all seemed to have somewhere to go. They certainly weren’t waving at me. We each stuck to our own path.
Then last week I started to think differently. I noticed all the signs on front lawns praising our essential workers and health care professionals. I noticed the colourful handmade drawings in front windows stating, “We are all in this together.” I noticed that the roads were decidedly quieter and the sidewalks a bit busier. Every single person I passed (on the other side of the street) had a smile and a wave. So many people were reaching out, trying to connect.
So I decided to start waving. Not just at pedestrians but at every single vehicle that I encountered.
The effect was instant and amazing. I saw looks of surprise. I saw looks of downright shock. I saw the odd person not look at all and I saw most people bust out a huge grin and wave back. By the time I got home I was grinning too. Non-stop, face-swallowing smiling.
Smiling is such an easy, contagious, joy-inducing activity. Waving is the icing on that very sweet cake. It’s win-win.
But here’s the thing – someone has to do it first.
That someone can be you.
I know it’s difficult if you’re shy. If you fear rejection. If you don’t get a wave in return. But honestly, it’s just a numbers game. The more you wave, the more waves you’ll get back. If you don’t wave at all, you’ll get back as many waves as you offered. And nobody will be smiling. We’ll all just carry on, scared, reluctant, frozen and alone.
I urge you to try it. BE the first. BE the one who instigates connection and joy. Wave with as much exuberance as you can muster. Smile as big as your lips allow. And do all of this as often as possible.
In these strange times we all muddle through as best we can. YOU decide how much to accomplish (or not). YOU decide how much connection you require (or desire). YOU decide how much (or how little) you can offer the world.
I just hope YOU decide to wave. Be the first. Open the (physical distancing, silent) dialogue. I guarantee it will come back to you tenfold.
Hey Meaford – I’m the chick in the beat-up old pink hoodie, big honkin’ white headphones and a blonde ponytail. I’m that crazy grinning girl waving at you.
I hope you wave back. And smile.