- Minding your own business
- Refusing to make eye contact
- Shutting yourself inside your home after school or work without talking to your neighbors
- Living in a virtual, anonymous world of likes, anger, and lies
That’s no way to live. We are alive, at this time, with billions of others for a reason. We are pieces in a cosmic puzzle. How and why are our edges touching those in our immediate circles? The only way to find out is to look, ask, and listen.
Several months ago, my dog gained an ebullient, rough playmate – her favorite kind – when we stopped to chat with another dog walker a mile from home. Now, we look forward to their Monday morning doggy tackle football sessions. I have also made several friends in the neighborhood because I greet passers-by and talk to strangers.
David lives on the corner. He is digging a hole in his yard for a green ti leaf plant and it’s taking awhile because he works on it a little at a time.
Belinda, on the other end of my street, had a sister who shared my name. Her amiable son just finished college in marketing. Their three dogs know to expect an enthusiastic greeting from my dog.
Danford is one my favorite neighborhood fixtures because of his Santa-like smile and beard. During his daily walks he helps keep the neighborhood clean by picking up litter. Hailing from Georgia, humid Hawaii summers don’t phase him in his black, long-sleeved shirt.
Lennie, a polio survivor and former Navy man, walks with his little dog Zoe to the large community park every day. She opens doors and cabinets with her front paws.
Know your neighbors
Why do I know these people? Because we paused our forward momentum to give each other a little time and attention. It didn’t cost anything. They are worth talking to and now we each know one other person in the neighborhood. We probably have our differences, but that’s not as important as sharing commonalities.
It’s important to know your neighbors. Everyone is busy with their own lives. Making time and expending effort to see people acknowledges them and our shared existence.
Eye contact, a greeting, and a smile convey, “You matter” and “I’m glad we crossed paths today.” We are all connected. Nurturing such bonds helps everyone feel more friendly, necessary, and appreciated.
This flesh + warmth + smile matter more than ephemeral, angry words on social media. That’s not real. If it doesn’t help you become kinder, better, or more patient, you don’t need it. It’s time to connect in the real world. You will have no regrets from being nice to someone or making them feel noticed.
Build community. Create ties. Live an aware, thankful life.
Talk to one new person in your neighborhood. What was it like?
Note: names were changed to allow my neighbors a little privacy. 😊