I enjoy taking a walk. It is a great way to exercise, a wonderful way to see things at a slower pace, and an opportunity to meet people. Often, during a walk, meeting people is nothing more than a smile and a quick "Hi", but the reactions are as wide, and some as barren, as the Arctic.
The older the passer-by, the more likely the response, but rarely a smile. Many have pain and suffering written cruelly across their face, where the years have etched it in deep, few remembering how to use the muscles required to turn up the corners of their mouths.
Men and attractive young ladies are the least to respond. Most never even wanting eyes to meet, scared and resentful of this unsolicited approach. Children have no time to respond, and didn't their mother always tell them not to talk to strangers?
Hey, I am not one of the ones that they were warned about, but they don't know that. Then there are those that can't keep their eyes off their shoes. I am not sure whether they are afraid they are going to trip over that crack in the sidewalk or if they are waiting for their laces to untie, all by themselves. Others have that straight ahead out-of-focus look, staring at some far off point on the horizon, not wanting to exert the effort of looking to the side.
But for the few that do respond, their eyes light up, a broad smile breaks across their face and they respond with a warm "Hi". Normally, these are the ones who have a lighter step, a lilt to their walk. They are the ones who enjoy observing their surroundings, drinking in all that nature has provided them. They have life and don't mind sharing it. I don't think this is something that is graced upon people at birth, but rather they discover it at some point along life's path.
Next time some stranger walks by you and says "Hi", respond to them.
You never know, it might be me.
Copyright © 2000 Brian McKay (Manitoba, Canada)