Little Things Mean a Lot

2016-01-01 08.02.42

I walk regularly these days, often in the early morning – purposefully, dressed very obviously as someone out getting some exercise. I’m very non-threatening; though my zip-up has a hood, I don’t use it unless I get caught in the drizzle. Even so, it is rare for anybody I pass along the road to acknowledge me, though I will always nod and smile.  Granted, I’ve taken to going out in the dim early morning light without make-up (horrors!)  It seems pointless to put it all on, only for the ‘gentle glow’ of exertion to wipe it away, so I do all that stuff after my walk.  As a result I admit, I’m not at my best and it’s perhaps not particularly pleasing on the eye, to encounter a sturdy 50-something woman with bed-hair and no make-up, striding down the street or across the park. So maybe that’s reason enough for most people to walk past me as if I’m not there, their eyes focused on some point in the middle distance, lost in their own internal worlds. I don’t know what they think I might do if they should nod and smile back at me. But there it is.

It’s only when I remove my headphones as I approach and greet someone in the park, usually a dog-walker, with a clear and friendly ‘Good Morning’ that I can elicit any kind of a response – and I think I’ve forced the courtesy then, so perhaps it doesn’t count.  But to be fair, it’s invariably the dog-walkers who are more forthcoming, even though I lack the canine companion that would position me firmly as a ‘friendly’ passer-by.

So today, it was a particular and delightful surprise to receive a warm smile and a ‘hello’ from a woman who was unlocking and letting herself into a shop as I passed. I pulled my headphones from my ears and she mentioned she’d seen me several times in recent days, usually a little further up the road and a little earlier (yep, Sunday, I had a lie-in). She asked me if I walked regularly, how long my walk was, and whether I was walking for weight-loss. As we chatted briefly, she offered me the warmest encouragement and congratulated me on my success so far. Without a doubt she brightened my day with her kind, positive words.

I wish more people would take the time simply to notice the strangers around them.  Busy lives we all have, but a nod, a smile, even a moment of conversation – it costs nothing, and it can spread more than a little sunshine.

Author: Jools

Abundant, Bold, Confident, Determined, Empathetic, Forthright, Grumpy, Healthier, Individual, Just me, Kind, Loving, Mellifluous, Natural, Optimistic, imPatient, Quirky, Real-world, Single-minded, unTreatable, Unwound, Verbal, Wilful, eXtraordinary, Young and old, Zero-tolerance.

21 thoughts on “Little Things Mean a Lot”

  1. As an introvert I rarely interact with people I encounter walking, at the post office, in line at a store, etc. A shame too because the few times I have, I’ve often come away with a pleasant exchange that leaves me smiling. I need to do more of this. Maybe your post will inspire me to do so.

    1. There you go! It never hurts; a nod, a smile, and you may be surprised how those simple gestures are rewarded. Of course, they may also be totally ignored… by all the other introverts! 😉

  2. A simple smile, even a subtle one, in return is nice. Perhaps people worry that then a conversation must follow. Often walks are the only private time some folks get. I always return a smile or greeting but then just go on. Lovely photo you took.

    1. And that’s what it’s about really. The conversation today was lovely, but mostly, it’s just about fellow human beings acknowledging one another. I’m glad you like the photo – I’m very fortunate to have such a peaceful open space so close to my home. I walk through most mornings, when it’s light enough to see where I’m going!

  3. I usually have my headphones on and smile and nod, and they do the same. But it’s a very British thing not to get too chatty with strangers. I had a senior woman give me a veritable scowl yesterday on my walk – no idea why.

    1. It is a British thing, you’re right. I’m used to it in the City, or on the underground. What surprised me was how normal it is when you just go for a walk in the park or round a few suburban streets. I wonder if it’s just me… Maybe that younger man or woman doesn’t feel they need to acknowledge the sturdy old(ish) bird!

  4. Couldn’t agree more Jools, although being a dog owner I do talk rather a lot to other dog walkers and those who want to come and say hello to Toby (my dog). Since getting him I’ve been amazed by how friendly people have become. In fact, it’s lead to a couple of good friendships.

  5. We walk three times a week, A friend who enjoys company and I. When walking we laugh, talk, laugh and walk, sometimes we sing. We have taken to doing this healthy walking thing for almost a year and manage around twenty miles a week. We leap off paths shout hello and wave, ruddy faced and gently glowing. We have found people we meet riding bikes, horses, or walking dogs, nervously stare, twitch and never speak first. I’m not easily ignored or at least I like to include everyone (we don’t meet many) on our journey. I try to share the attitude the wonder of a morning walk. Keep going, try to walk with a pal. 😇

    1. Ellen, I’d love to run across you and your friend on your walks! In fact, i wouldn’t want to be coming the other way- I’d want to be walking with you. 😀

  6. I agree with you, it doesn’t take much for a polite nod or smile. But I also know that some folks are shy, or not ‘morning’ people, or lost in their own early, meditative reverie. With time, as you become more familiar, that may change, you little ray of sunshine, you! 😉

    1. You’re quite right Eliza – not everyone is a morning person! I’m a relentless morning person myself, but I burn out mid-evening. You’re more likely to find me nodding off at a party than failing to nod and smile on my early morning walks 😊.

  7. Good for you, Jools, for making the effort to nod and smile. I notice the same, that people often stay in their own bubbles. A smile and a “good morning” sometimes elicits a look of surprise and a delayed greeting in return. But I like that process of reaching out, and I think for most people it’s a pleasant surprise, just as you felt when the woman at the shop greeted you. Keep it up…not just with those friendly dog walkers!

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