Earlier today, something completely commonplace yet highly unusual happened.
I was outside doing yard work when this woman who lives across the street walked over to me. I was mowing the lawn so I switched the mower off for a second when she said …
“Hi! My name is Sara! I live across the street and I thought I’d come to say hello. Sorry it has taken me so long!”
I’m new compared to most of the folks in my neighborhood. However, in the time I’ve been here, I’ve seen two houses go up for sale and three families come and go. That’s just how life works. Everything is so fragile and fluid.
“Hello!” I replied. “I totally understand. We’re all busy.”
“Well, that’s really it,” she replied. “Welcome!”
“Thanks,” I said. “Looks like a great day for raking leaves!”
And that was it. A quick, down-to-earth chat. In fact, neither of us could’ve been more down-to-earth. We were both mowing our lawns and raking leaves. We were actually salt of the earth in those moments.
Which brings me to my point ...
Can you recall the last time you introduced yourself to someone? I know, I know. You feel squeamish about it. It seems weird because you never know what you’re going to get when you extend yourself to a stranger.
One minute you say, “Hello” and the next, you’ve stepped into a situation with a full-on stalker like dog poo stuck to the bottom of your shoe. Freeing yourself of it is going to take some serious cleansing.
These days, it’s so rare to see people get up and make that twenty-foot walk to go over and introduce themselves to a complete stranger. This isn’t even all that common at social networking events that exist for that expressed purpose.
For the record, I’ve seen Sara out and about in the past. I believe she lives alone. This may sound like an excuse, but I’ve learned to be careful about approaching certain women … especially women who live alone. They already have security fears and I never want to add to that by startling them.
It is what it is. Unfortunately.
Anyway, I write all of this to say that in this age of 24/7 communication and social media, many if not most of us don’t even communicate with our own neighbors who practically live within arm’s reach. We often don’t know their name or what they do for a living. All we know is whatever we discern from peeping through the windows from the sanctity of our own homes.
We jump to conclusions and gossip about them based upon whatever it is we think we’ve seen during the moments we spent spying on them. We don’t really want to introduce ourselves to our neighbors because if we do that, we might find ourselves stuck with people who are unloading their endless problems on us. We’ve got our own problems to deal with.
Still, I think we’ve got to get back to introducing ourselves to people … especially our neighbors. How can we be critical of bickering Jews and Muslims in the Middle East if we don’t even know our own neighbors?
These days, when you introduce yourself to someone, they look at you as if they’ve seen a ghost. This is silly and childish. We’re adults not children. It’s actually rude to avoid introducing yourself to someone. How can we expect our children to grow up and be well-adjusted adults when we’re not behaving as such?
We are the primary role models for our kids. And here’s another thought…
Introducing yourself to a stranger can change your life. It opens up brand new possibilities. It makes things happen. The things that happen don’t have to be bad things, they can be good things. Since we’re living in the age of social media, let’s focus more on the social part in actual life as opposed to virtual life. The payoff will be much greater, No?
Here’s what we know. We know that whenever we walk over and introduce ourselves to someone, we have to strip off the nonsense and BE our authentic selves. It’s all about taking that risk involving one-on-one eye contact and hand-shaking. In these pure seconds, being phony just won’t cut it. You’ve got no crutch. You’ve got to be real and risk rejection.
But here’s the thing … aren’t you trying to be more authentic in your life anyway?
I mean, look … Sara actually made my day today. Truth be told, I’ve been feeling a little depressed about the state of our nation and the world. We’re so politically, culturally and socially divided. We’ve actually chosen division as opposed to making even minimal attempts to understand one another. It feels hopeless to me.
Yet when Sara came over to me and said, “Hi!” that actually gave me hope. It gave me a little shot of hopeful adrenalin. It actually inspired me to sit down and write these words.
I’m smiling as I write this.
People, inspiration and words are the lifeblood of any writer. They’re the lifeblood of US. The words are flowing. I feel like I’m writing this in record time. It’s not about speed, but it’s about inspiration. Somehow, I feel inspired ... and hopeful.
I met someone new today.
By the way dear reader, if you’re reading me for the first time, let me crawl out of my silo and introduce myself …
“I’m Michael K. Corbin. Nice to meet you! I hope you enjoyed this essay.”
Can world peace be far behind?