Would It Kill You to Wave Hello, and Smile?


A few years back we owned land in the remote Colorado mountain town of Crestone, Colorado. Crestone is 13 miles off the main North-South 2-lane Highway 17 from Moffat. To the east is the Rio Grande National Forest with the spectacular Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The Great Sand Dunes National Park lies just to the south. The nearest large town is Alamosa, Colorado, 40 miles south as the crow flies.

Crestone is a New Age kind of place and a short 215 mile hop to the New Age Capital of the Universe, Boulder, Colorado. Boulder has been described as 26 square miles surrounded by reality. Just kidding, a great town. Peace and Love, ya'll.

The thing we remember so vividly about Crestone, Colorado is how when you are driving around the area people you encounter in oncoming cars wave and smile. Not just an urban wan raised hand, but a hearty flapping of the phalanges. And a general civility and friendliness among the townsfolk is also a common sight.

So we got to wondering. What if we imported this practice to our home town? If you live in or near an large urban center you will probably notice these days a certain rather cool deportment among the citizenry. For example, in our upscale suburban town of Montclair, New Jersey people at the local Whole Foods move about with their shopping as if they don't see anyone else. Now you know that everybody is checking everybody out. But, they don't show it. It's now only six years since we moved here that the shop clerks in places we frequent give any nod of recognition. And, too often, when they do it there's not much life in it.

Is the world so much with us these days and taking so much of our energy and attention that the common courtesies of living among our fellows are now becoming a quaint memory? Do we settle for an arms length of friends on Facebook. I don't know if some of my social network friends who live in my town would even take the bother to say hello if we met on the street. (But, come to think of it, based on some of my comments, I can see why they might not. We live in a world where we are one Tweet away from social ostracism.)

Also wondering a lot about all those kids raised to not talk to strangers. Did anyone tell them that when they grow up it's alright to interact in public? All those poker faces on the street. Whew! Stop the world, I want to get off.

If you're the sort that is so hell bent to get to your next thing, only narrowly committing your attention to whatever prosperity project you have your sights set on, then let me pull over as I saunter down the street enjoying the view in the moment so that I don't slow you down as you whizz by racing to be first to the next red light. (Are you a "Red Light Racer" dodging and ducking through traffic to be the first to that red light up ahead? We don't want to introduce an inconvenient truth here; but, fella, you're going to die. Is your life about racing to that ultimate finish? The one with the most miles under his belt is the winner? Or, have you been so taken up with your quotidian busyness that you haven't even broached that question?) 

Just, hey bub, could you give us a wave, mate as you pass on by? Would it kill you to wave a howdy and smile?

We are suggesting that we all join a club together. It's called "Say Hello . . .  (insert your city name here)". You join by simple assent then pass this idea on to your neighbors and friends. It'll catch on like wild fire and before long you'll be living in a smiling, sociable town.

No comments: