Imagine with me. People are walking or running in your neighborhood. Some are skinny and some are overweight. Some are men, some women, and some children. Others are strikingly beautiful, while some are barely noticed. Fashionistas are present along with those who are wearing grubbies. The imagination can be better than a photograph.

I am fortunate to live within a few blocks of a “greenway” which has been transformed into a park with a number of pathways for exercise. Even though I don’t utilize it as much as I should, you will often find me walking or running through nature’s hiding places, working to get the body in shape.

On a fall day, the park is more arresting than normal. With its majestic leaves, clean air, contrasting colors, and quiet stillness, the greenway becomes more of source of inspiration, than a place to burn calories.

Passing other runners or those walking at their pace, I am struck by the number of exercisers who fail to respond to a smile or a friendly greeting. After all, isn’t this activity akin to belonging to a club or something. Whether walking or running, these folks are a small group compared to the massive number of people who fail to exercise because they are too busy, have health issues, lack discipline, or are just couch potatoes.

When I make the slightest gesture to smile or say “hi!” or “How are you?” and get no response, it diminishes the magnificence of this junket through nature’s landscape. Even though it shouldn’t effect such a valuable endeavor, it almost always takes some of the wind out of my sails.

How difficult is it to respond to meager portion of kindness? Do they see me as a threat to their daily routine? Are they afraid they will get mugged by this mini doughboy? Is it belittling to speak to a walker as you jog by at breakneck speed? Or is it just a macho moment where it is not cool to acknowledge anyone else exists in their personal cosmos?

Whatever! A smile can turn the world around. Kindness is the oil that greases the wheels of relationships, whether momentary or more permanent.

I once read that you should smile while you are recording the out-going greeting on your cell phone. I tried it and it wasn’t very easy to talk and smile at the same time. I had a number of people respond very positively to the recording on my voicemail. Could callers actually see my smile through the telephone?

When I was a kid, I watched Joey the Clown on WSOC. He always closed his show with the statement, “remember, all we really have in this ‘ole world is each other.” I never forgot that phrase. And neither should anyone else.

Photograph copyright 2011 Jim Lockmman/Click!

 

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