There is a man in our neighborhood that has gotten a reputation for spending the bulk of his days either seated in his driveway or just behind his large bay window (on rainy or cold days) and waving at everyone that passes by. He is an older gentleman, most likely retired, and has come to be known as “the waving man”. Everyone in our part of town knows the waving man. Some people we know even send him Christmas cards now.
He is part of our world, and his kindness is infectious.
When I drive past the waving man’s house I always slow down, wave and smile, and I realize in the last few years I will frequently go out of my way to pass by his house. Why? Because connecting with him in that simple act improves my mood, makes for a better day for us both and subsequently improves the way I deal with everyone else I come in contact with. It is a simple act of neighborly kindness that I pass on, that I “pay forward”.
As a youth, growing up in rural Iowa, it was a natural thing to wave at people when you pass them driving. It’s just what you did, and that’s that. And in those moments, two people connected, however briefly, as humans. At some point when I moved to the more urban areas they became cars, traffic, and no longer were humans. The older I get, the more I realize the need for these human connections. It is the truest form of “social networking”.
I realize most people do not have a waving man that they can pinpoint in their lives. They do not have that assurance that there is someone out there that you can count on to be kind. Some days, albeit rarely, he is not there. I like to think he is enjoying a baseball game or perhaps just taking a break for a bite to eat. But, in the back of my mind, I know that someday the waving man will be gone. So I drive by, I wave, and I appreciate that moment in time.
The Butterfly Effect is a theory that the simplicity of a butterfly flapping its wings has the potential to set in motion a chain of events that will alter the future. So just as the waving man raises his arm to say hello, I think to myself that this man has the potential to change the future. When I stop to let someone cross the street and wave at them and politely smile, I am thinking of the waving man and the lessons the bible has taught me about human kindness. I have no idea what the other person is thinking. Maybe they are experiencing the same feelings that I do when I pass by the waving man’s house. Or maybe they think I am a nut. Either way, it’s a real human connection.
I encourage you to take these opportunities to express kindness, make connections and change the future. Talk to the cashier at the grocery store, thank people, smile more and just once when you are in the drive through line of your favorite fast food establishment pay for the order of the person behind you. Don’t relay any messages of Christianity or anything, just do it because you can and drive on. It will most assuredly change the future, or at least brighten their day and give them a story to tell.
Have a great day… and when you drive by, wave, and I will wave back… unless I am watching a football game.