Each morning I drive my daughter to school down the two main streets of my little town. Like clockwork at 8:10 each morning I drive the same route religiously because, well, I don’t like change (in case you hadn’t noticed). I have been driving this same route for four years. Mostly every morning.
I have passed, on my drive, the same smiling man each morning. He walks with great intention and swings his arms joyously, which at first I thought was sorta odd… I thought to myself, “What on earth is he so happy about? Why does he walk so briskly on this __________ morning at o dark thirty? He isn’t dressed like he is exercising….Why does he smile at me? Is he on drugs?” The questions in my mind rambled on even as I passed him from behind leaving my daughter’s school to grab my morning cup of joe, so I too could feign at least a half hearted smile. (Not that I am not a morning person, but I like to begin my day at my pace, and well quite frankly, that isn’t always an option…).
Let me tell you…this may walks at an angle like this / . Seriously, his head leading as he walks with great purpose but joyously and freely.
For months, maybe years he has looked at me with the same smile but also with anticipation and the hope that I will wave. You know the look. Like he is searching my face with great anticipation. I always drive by him and then begin to feel pleasant and to think pleasant thoughts, but I never waived. Partially because well, I’m kinda rebellious sorta, but partly because I was trying to see how long I could resist the urge to waive at him. Seriously, it was a huge urge. Like this guy was soooo happy, I just wanted to share in some of his happiness. As the days turned into months, it became a challenge. Then, I got a bright idea, why don’t I waive AFTER I pass him. To his back? Then, the “powers that be” will see my willingness and I will get points but well, then I don’t have to be so outgoing and nice at such an early hour.
The long and the short of it: I caved. About three months ago I began waiving. The first morning he didn’t see me waive because in all of my anxiousness, I didn’s ensure he was looking in my direction, he was looking at the trees. (Why would anyone be looking at the trees my logical self asked). I felt defeated. Deflated. I had built my self up with great anticipation that I was actually going to “do it”. The next morning I waived and HE SAW ME!!! We smiled and kept on going with our day.
Let me tell you. I know some of you find it hard to believe that some random stranger was so pleasant and happy to see me that I am sure you are asking yourself “what does he want”. Me too. But after seeing this guy day after day after day after day this man was just happy joyous and free. And I wanted that. So, I began waiving and he waived back and we both smiled happy smiles and kept on our paths. He is the wonderful start to every weekday morning. He appears at first glance a dangerous and menacing sort of guy. BUT the way he walks is remarkable. And his smile just totally lights up his face. The smile on his face is noteworthy. It give me happiness, it spreads a little joy and every morning, I am grateful to be able to waive to him.
This is what I have been given: a piece of his happiness, joyousness and freedom.
Today, I wasn’t paying attention and reached up for my sun visor just as I was approaching him on the side of the road. He mistook my reaching up as a waive and he immediately raised his whole arm to waive at me, but when he realized I was reaching for the visor he scratched his ear to try to play it off….Funny. But I zealously waived back quickly before it went unnoticed…again.
What this has been a testimony to is that I need people in my life like that. I need to see that it is possible, not because I am not happy, joyous and free but because sometimes I can become complacent and ungrateful. I need to celebrate the fact that I woke up, my children woke up and all is well.
My goal is to become “that person” to give back the gift that stranger has given to me.