The world is a big and often scary place.
And for some people like me the weight of that can feel crushing at times.
I am a taker-on-er.
I hear it and I see it and I allow my heart and mind to take it in. Some things stick around in my head and heart too long, or with too much intensity.
I have trouble letting it go or dismissing it.
Which is why I pray a lot in the long dark awake hours of the night.
But I find the best way to sort out my heart and mind is to DO something.
Finding the "right" thing to DO can be hard and paralyzing in itself.
Writing a cheque only goes so far for my heart. I'm not looking to assuage guilt or silence the questions on my mind - I am looking to face them with authenticity and grace and energy.
I don't have all the answers - I am still working it out for myself....some things have worked and other have not .... I think the point is that I am still wrestling with my role, my personal response in the face of the suffering of others.
The one thing that surprisingly takes a lot of effort and also has some pretty great results is my relatively recent decision to relentlessly say "Hello" to every person I pass while out walking.
Seeing as walking is also often my internal processing time and I am often deep in my own thoughts - it is super easy to keep my head down, eyes averted and just keep walking.
But that keeps me separate and disconnected.
So in spite of feeling a bit shy (yes me) and a bit odd at times, I now keep my head up and I look directly at those I walk by or pass and I say a cheery "Hello"....and keep walking.
So many times people look surprised and then they greet me back by a smile, a nod, a wave and often their own "Hello" as we pass.
I see that sometimes I startle them out of their own reverie and sometimes I meet searching eyes looking to connect.
Very few people make no response. I see some regulars starting to anticipate my "Hello" now.
And it doesn't matter who it is - a plugged in teenager, a old chinese man who lives on our block, other walkers, children on bikes, shoppers... I WILL say "Hello" to everyone.
"Hello" and a smile is a bridge - a universal connector and I always feel better when I finish my walk and know I saw my neighbours, my fellow humans
on this journey, and left them with a "Hello".
An acknowledgment that they exist and are noticed.
Obviously I am not walking in Aleppo or Haiti or Uganda.... I am walking where I am right now where there is relative poverty, ageism, racism, rampant individualism.... hurting hearts are no respecter of geography, ethnicity, age.
Loneliness is a universal experience.
And "Hello" is free. It takes zero expertise.
It surely does not solve any of the worlds big problems and far more may be required of me but insofar as change starts with me .... I choose to be relentless in saying "Hello" believing that it just may lead to more than that with someone, sometime.
So in case you missed it at the top.... "Hello!"