Every morning as part of my morning routine, I head out on a walk around my neighborhood. There’s a nice walking path that loops around and gets me back home. That path is a little over 3.5 miles and takes me about an hour.
I really love this path and enjoy my walks immensely. Most days I see the same folks out walking as well and although we never stop to chat, we recognize one another and wave or nod back and forth.
There is a particular couple that I see nearly everyday, out walking their dog. Every time they see me they wave enthusiastically and yell, “Hello! How are you today?”
They are so animated that at first I thought maybe I knew them and just didn’t recognize them. This is an alarmingly common occurrence in my life, by the way. People come up to me all the time and say hello and chat for a bit, all the while I have no idea who they are. If my wife happens to be with me she will remind me that they attended church with us several years ago or were perhaps parents of another child who played on one of our kids’ sports teams. Even with her patient explanations I still never remember them.
Anyway, back to this couple. One day they had started their walk shortly before me and I was sort of trailing along behind them on our mutual path so I got to see them as they interacted with others they encountered. As they came up to other people they would wave enthusiastically and yell, “Hello! How are you today?”
To every single person.
I then noticed that any time a car would pass they would wave enthusiastically as well (although they skipped the whole “Hello! How are you today?” part.) Surely they didn't know every one of these passersby personally?
It dawned on me that they were just overly friendly to everyone they saw. Not only that, but the lady always carries a small garbage bag and one of those trash picker things, you know the claw thingy that lets you pick up garbage without bending over? So, here they are, out walking their dog, picking up trash, and waving animatedly to everyone they saw, inquiring about their mood.
My mind reeled with this new info. Are they just good people? I was skeptical. But, maybe they were. Everything about their behavior would indicate this to be the case. I found it both sad and encouraging that this might be. Sad because of my skepticism (what did that say about the world, or more accurately, my view of the world?)
Encouraging because there are still good people around us all the time. They are friendly, engaging, and genuine. They want what’s best for you and their community. They are driven by some internal moral compass to make those around them feel safe and welcome.
I find myself looking eagerly for them each morning. I love the dopamine hit they give me with their friendly wave and enthusiastic shout and do my best to return it as much as my introverted self will allow. I can't quite reach their level of enthusiasm, but I'm working on it.
They make me happy.
More importantly, they serve as a great example of how people should strive to be. They make the world a better place and make me want to be a better person.
And for that, I thank them.