Finding Solace in Simple Pleasures

 

When I go on my morning walks, I’m often alone on the sidewalks. The early darkness might discourage people from stepping outside of their homes. Most walkers are people with pets who are probably desperate to find a swatch of grass, and their owners are obviously happy to oblige. Although I don’t see many people with dogs anymore, I always like to see Zoe, an English mastiff who is both gentle and stubborn. When she sees me coming, she stops and watches me approaching. Her owner makes her sit, which she does reluctantly. Lately, she’s more reserved toward me, so I make sure she sniffs my hand before I scratch her ears. That physical connection usually does the trick, and we are friends once again.

This morning provided a moment that has stuck with me through my day. Often when I am out, the maintenance fellows are mowing the grass on their overgrown tractors. They are so hypnotizingly focused as they whip around on the golf greens, that I sometimes can’t catch their attention. But now and then they see me smile and wave, and they respond in kind. I can’t tell if they are pleased to react, or if they do it reluctantly.

Today, though, the motives of the fellow I saw were clear. As I approached on the sidewalk opposite him (about 50 feet away), he smiled and waved before I could initiate my greeting. I grinned and waved back; I assume it was reminiscent of another cheerful morning when we connected. It was an especially sweet moment on a number of counts. For one, he was a black fellow who didn’t seem to care about the differences in our skin color. For another, he saw me as a peer (rather than our connecting worker to “employer.”) And finally, he sought to initiate a friendly, warm, and sincere gesture without hesitation. One human being relating to another, voluntarily and generously.

Our exchange had nothing to do with race, gender, appearances, class, or any other distinction that people insist upon in our times. It was, to me, communicating joy, our pleasure in being alive on a pleasant Thursday morning, an opportunity to be acknowledged in the nascent moments of the day.

A moment of solace in a turbulent world.

Just one human being to another.

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  1. WiesbadenJake Coolidge
    WiesbadenJake
    @WiesbadenJake

    Shared humanity is a beautiful thing!

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    WiesbadenJake (View Comment):

    Shared humanity is a beautiful thing!

    And is especially lovely when it is spontaneous and unexpected!

    • #2
  3. WillowSpring Member
    WillowSpring
    @WillowSpring

    Mrs. Spring and I tend to refer to walkers by the dog they own – as in: “Look, there’s Nick’s mom!” and usually stop to talk to them.  Although we both have kept walking in the morning, we lost our last Scottish Deerhound several months ago.  Nick – a lab mix – has become my therapy session. 

    I have started taking some biscuits and when Nick sees me, he has learned to sit to get a biscuit and have his ears rubbed.  I think it does us both good.

    • #3
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    WillowSpring (View Comment):

    Mrs. Spring and I tend to refer to walkers by the dog they own – as in: “Look, there’s Nick’s mom!” and usually stop to talk to them. Although we both have kept walking in the morning, we lost our last Scottish Deerhound several months ago. Nick – a lab mix – has become my therapy session.

    I have started taking some biscuits and when Nick sees me, he has learned to sit to get a biscuit and have his ears rubbed. I think it does us both good.

    I call that getting my “dog fix”! Yes, I too tend to learn the dog’s names–easier to gain their trust–and then I forget to ask the owner’s name. Everyone seems to be okay with that.

    • #4
  5. Hugh Member
    Hugh
    @Hugh

    Jordan Peterson has spoken at length about the importance of eye contact to humans (and animals) .  Without it society just wouldn’t work right.

    • #5
  6. StChristopher Member
    StChristopher
    @JohnBerg

    I remember this feeling in a different situation some time ago.  I was waiting for my take-out and a story came on the TV.  A lady, also waiting for her take-out, and I started chatting about the TV story.  We laughed and had a great time as the conversation wandered to discussions about the neighborhood and other great take-out spots.  Our laughs and good conversation made the wait for our food fun and go by quickly.  Once we got our food and said our good byes, I couldn’t help but think what a lie is being pushed that we must be divided by race.   She was black, I’m white.  After the George Floyd protest in Portland I was lead to believe that all blacks were angry at white people.  She made me realize that we have so much in common as Americans.  The left want’s us divided, but there is so much that unites us.  

    • #6
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    StChristopher (View Comment):

    I remember this feeling in a different situation some time ago. I was waiting for my take-out and a story came on the TV. A lady, also waiting for her take-out, and I started chatting about the TV story. We laughed and had a great time as the conversation wandered to discussions about the neighborhood and other great take-out spots. Our laughs and good conversation made the wait for our food fun and go by quickly. Once we got our food and said our good byes, I couldn’t help but think what a lie is being pushed that we must be divided by race. She was black, I’m white. After the George Floyd protest in Portland I was lead to believe that all blacks were angry at white people. She made me realize that we have so much in common as Americans. The left want’s us divided, but there is so much that unites us.

    Wonderful story, St. Christopher. I grew up in southern California where there were few blacks at the time, so I tend to notice people’s race. For some reason and when the opportunity presents itself, I particularly make an effort to greet black people and make eye contact (as Hugh suggested). Now I have several black people, mostly men because few black women work out at our gym, where we make a point to greet each other and smile. I like to do that with everyone anyway, but I think in these times I want to let them know that I appreciate not only sharing gym space and our commitment to good health, but our place on the planet. It’s such a nice feeling!

    • #7
  8. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    This is why our constitution is supposed to restrain government’s assault on humanity. Unalienable rights are the hallmark of humanity.

    • #8
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Rodin (View Comment):

    This is why our constitution is supposed to restrain government’s assault on humanity. Unalienable rights are the hallmark of humanity.

    True, Rodin. It’s so easy to forget that, since we are feeling politically assaulted on a regular basis.

    • #9
  10. WillowSpring Member
    WillowSpring
    @WillowSpring

    StChristopher (View Comment):
    She made me realize that we have so much in common as Americans.  The left want’s us divided, but there is so much that unites us.  

    It is partly my sense of curiosity and maybe a sign of growing age that I try to find something to talk about with many of the people I interact with.  For example, the check-out clerks at the grocery store come from a variety of countries and all have a name tag.  That gives me a perfect opening to ask what an unusual name means; I usually explain that my given name is pretty dull.  For example, one lady I see several times a week is named “Yumna” which means “Blessed”!  I asked her what country that was from and she said she didn’t know, she was born in Detroit and her mother just liked the name.

    Back in the height of the mask wearing, I was behind a large black man who was surprised that the clerk didn’t recognize him.  He had on a solid black mask and removed it so she could see his face underneath the mask, he had a very solid black beard and didn’t really look any different than with the mask!  (Like the scene in Airport when the pilot takes off dark glasses to reveal another pair underneath).  I laughed and commented that he didn’t look any different without the mask. 

    He and his friend both laughed and when we got to the parking lot, they both commented on my car ( a 20 year old BMW Z4) and it wound up his friend was rebuilding one for himself.  Just a couple of guys talking cars – one old white guy and two younger big black guys.  All interested in a 20 year old car.

    It ain’t race!

    I didn’t vote for Obama, but consoled myself when he won with the hope that we would now finally put race behind us as an issue.

    Boy! was I wrong.

     

     

    • #10
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    WillowSpring (View Comment):

    StChristopher (View Comment):
    She made me realize that we have so much in common as Americans. The left want’s us divided, but there is so much that unites us.

    It is partly my sense of curiosity and maybe a sign of growing age that I try to find something to talk about with many of the people I interact with. For example, the check-out clerks at the grocery store come from a variety of countries and all have a name tag. That gives me a perfect opening to ask what an unusual name means; I usually explain that my given name is pretty dull. For example, one lady I see several times a week is named “Yumna” which means “Blessed”! I asked her what country that was from and she said she didn’t know, she was born in Detroit and her mother just liked the name.

    Back in the height of the mask wearing, I was behind a large black man who was surprised that the clerk didn’t recognize him. He had on a solid black mask and removed it so she could see his face underneath the mask, he had a very solid black beard and didn’t really look any different than with the mask! (Like the scene in Airport when the pilot takes off dark glasses to reveal another pair underneath). I laughed and commented that he didn’t look any different without the mask.

    He and his friend both laughed and when we got to the parking lot, they both commented on my car ( a 20 year old BMW Z4) and it wound up his friend was rebuilding one for himself. Just a couple of guys talking cars – one old white guy and two younger big black guys. All interested in a 20 year old car.

    It ain’t race!

    I didn’t vote for Obama, but consoled myself when he won with the hope that we would now finally put race behind us as an issue.

    Boy! was I wrong.

     

     

    Yes, but we can still strive, person by person, to keep those delicious moments alive! They often make my day.

     

    • #11
  12. Phil Turmel Coolidge
    Phil Turmel
    @PhilTurmel

    Susan Quinn: This morning provided a moment that has stuck with me through my day. Often when I am out, the maintenance fellows are mowing the grass on their overgrown tractors. They are so hynotizingly focused as they whip around on the golf greens, that I sometimes can’t catch their attention. But now and then they see me smile and wave, and they respond in kind. I can’t tell if they are pleased to react, or if they do it reluctantly.

    The big zero-turn professional mowers are two-handed controls, like WWII-era tanks.  They might not be able to wave back.  Consider just nodding your head at them when you catch their eye.  They’ll be able to nod back. (:

    • #12
  13. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    WillowSpring (View Comment):

    Mrs. Spring and I tend to refer to walkers by the dog they own – as in: “Look, there’s Nick’s mom!” and usually stop to talk to them. Although we both have kept walking in the morning, we lost our last Scottish Deerhound several months ago. Nick – a lab mix – has become my therapy session.

    I have started taking some biscuits and when Nick sees me, he has learned to sit to get a biscuit and have his ears rubbed. I think it does us both good.

    Foxes can do that too!

     

    • #13
  14. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    WillowSpring (View Comment):

    StChristopher (View Comment):
    She made me realize that we have so much in common as Americans. The left want’s us divided, but there is so much that unites us.

    It is partly my sense of curiosity and maybe a sign of growing age that I try to find something to talk about with many of the people I interact with. For example, the check-out clerks at the grocery store come from a variety of countries and all have a name tag. That gives me a perfect opening to ask what an unusual name means; I usually explain that my given name is pretty dull. For example, one lady I see several times a week is named “Yumna” which means “Blessed”! I asked her what country that was from and she said she didn’t know, she was born in Detroit and her mother just liked the name.

    Back in the height of the mask wearing, I was behind a large black man who was surprised that the clerk didn’t recognize him. He had on a solid black mask and removed it so she could see his face underneath the mask, he had a very solid black beard and didn’t really look any different than with the mask! (Like the scene in Airport when the pilot takes off dark glasses to reveal another pair underneath). I laughed and commented that he didn’t look any different without the mask.

    He and his friend both laughed and when we got to the parking lot, they both commented on my car ( a 20 year old BMW Z4) and it wound up his friend was rebuilding one for himself. Just a couple of guys talking cars – one old white guy and two younger big black guys. All interested in a 20 year old car.

    It ain’t race!

    I didn’t vote for Obama, but consoled myself when he won with the hope that we would now finally put race behind us as an issue.

    Boy! was I wrong.

    Trump did more to heal race relations than Obama ever even dreamed of.

    Especially since I doubt that Obama ever really dreamed of that.

    • #14
  15. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: This morning provided a moment that has stuck with me through my day. Often when I am out, the maintenance fellows are mowing the grass on their overgrown tractors. They are so hynotizingly focused as they whip around on the golf greens, that I sometimes can’t catch their attention. But now and then they see me smile and wave, and they respond in kind. I can’t tell if they are pleased to react, or if they do it reluctantly.

    The big zero-turn professional mowers are two-handed controls, like WWII-era tanks. They might not be able to wave back. Consider just nodding your head at them when you catch their eye. They’ll be able to nod back. (:

    Also, I was going to comment, it’s a good thing when guys doing that work are very focused.  So they don’t run over stuff, etc.

    • #15
  16. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    WillowSpring (View Comment):

    I didn’t vote for Obama, but consoled myself when he won with the hope that we would now finally put race behind us as an issue.

    Boy! was I wrong.

    I think that was the thought of about everyone who didn’t vote  for Obama in 2008. By 2012 we knew better, but didn’t have a candidate that could push through. We didn’t in 2008 either (given that McCain voted to keep Obamacare — the last of a long line of disappointments).

    • #16
  17. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Hugh (View Comment):

    Jordan Peterson has spoken at length about the importance of eye contact to humans (and animals) . Without it society just wouldn’t work right.

    Yes, eye contact.

    On the bike ride to southern Indiana that I finished just recently, I had quite a few contacts with dogs. In that part of the country, in rural areas, it isn’t quite such a universal custom for people to keep their dogs restrained behind fences or underground wire systems as it is further north.  I’m getting too old or lazy to outrun most dogs, unless I’m going downhill, so my approach now is to stop and talk to them.  They react variously.  Sometimes they run away, sometimes they come up to lick my hand and be petted, sometimes to try to take a bite out of me.

    There was one group of three dogs near Hagerstown that backed off to the other side of the road when I stopped. But the one refused to look at me directly, not even to growl and snarl at me.  He only looked at me out of the corner of his eye.  I didn’t trust that one.  The owner came out and called them back, so I didn’t have a long standoff.  (Her daughter of age 9-10, I would guess, had tried to anticipate the problem before the dogs started to run at me, and the dogs did obey her somewhat, but when I got close the temptation had gotten to be just too much for them.) 

    • #17
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