I closed the front door behind me and went down the few steps to the grass. There was a soft and steady rustle beneath my feet as I moved my tread away from the small petals of little flowers. I was mindful of where I stepped, hoping not to crush the precious view I love to spy at from out of my dusty picture window.
Safely at the asphalt, my speed did not increase, but waned in a way. I was enjoying the morning sun, the last degrees of the day just shy of 9am when humidity begins to have its torturous ways with us. The air was still fresh and cool, the dew drops dutifully dotting every lawn with a dash of glisten. The sharp sun came at me from the east, as I lowered the brow of my hat, but lifted my head to catch some of its rays.
I noticed this neighbor’s lantana. The house next to them is growing broad beans on their chain link fence. A few houses down I catch the ghostly note of jasmine in the air, though I can’t see from which eden it calls from.
I wasn’t going very far. Just up to the 7-11 and back. And in those short 4 blocks I realized that I had said, “good morning,” or had been told, “good morning,” about 6 times. There is a steady stream in my neighborhood of people walking or biking to where they need to be, even if they don’t need to be anywhere at all. You don’t see many cars darting through here. You only see….people. Not many of them seem to be in a rush, not many of them seem that different from day to day.
Once I was at 7-11, I waited my place in line and when it was my turn, I was met with the largest squint of smiling eyes. I have become a regular, smiling face in the morning. I tend to do that. I’m old fashioned that way. If I see you on a daily basis I’m going to love you every second I can, even if that span is only 60 of them at best. You just get to know something beautiful about someone if day after day your brief encounter is just filled with a blessing in the form of a big, so-nice-to-see-you-again, friendly faced, “Good morning!”
(I will confess. I have never seen her face. Only that bun on her head and her big brown eyes from behind a mask. And when she’s not working? I get a little sad that I didn’t get to see her….I didn’t get to tell her “good morning.”)
I strolled home slowly and thought so long about neighborhoods, about communities, about how these people that I see on a daily basis all live here, they all shared that same eastern sun that I did, dazzling us with dew drops with the crack of a solar flare. “Brighten, I say! BRIGHTEN!”
There is a comfort a neighborhood finds in a familiarity with someone. And that familiarity is based on daily human to human interaction, no matter how simple or extended the interaction is. We need that as people. We need to feel that those around us (if not validate) acknowledge us. And in a gorgeous twist of irony, you learn that there is a more soulful peace in acknowledging someone else.
That kind of comfort cannot be found in group mobilization. The only rewards and riches that you find in life are found in a basic love in the familiar stranger you see everyday, the individual. Basic love: kindness and best wishes to a stranger.
And it was nice to smile my way back home thinking that everyone I met today agreed with that, voting with eye contact and a smile.
I bounced up those few steps, walked in the front door and Phillip was awake, getting ready for work, watching the morning network news.
The famous anchor on the tv blared warnings of racial division, injustice, and the fight for equality, warning me of the racial hostility that is brewing and shredding the country apart, pushing cities to the breaking point.
I closed the door behind me, walked past him, remarking as I left for the kitchen, “From the morning I’ve had, I’m going to say that man is lying to you.”
Because from what I’ve gathered on my own day to day treks, the media and society at large may be pushing us into groups and selling tickets to eager people who want to see us battle it out, but the majority of people I see on a daily basis are more interested in the promotion of peace through one interaction at a time, person to person, with only the best intentions.
The people I encounter aren’t interested in chaos and destruction. They’re interested in the absolute opposite: peace. They inherently know that submitting to chaos would cause peace to perish. And none of us want that. To keep peace from perishing, you don’t wait for someone to offer you a blessing. You offer them one first. And what better blessing than the simple acknowledgement of another person with a friendly face. Don’t know nothing about you, but I wish you well….Basic love.
Demands for outrage or apology on my part, will not serve you well. Because it is a beautiful day. Every person I connected with today agreed. By being kind to lives that we only brush by says so much about how you truly care about people in general. If you’re arrogant to the store clerk, but a champion of the oppressed on social media, then you’re missing the point of what peaceful activism means.
Yes, you can mobilize groups, start campaigns, build funding platforms to keep you employed as an activist, pay for lawyers, rent a sky high Manhattan office building, burn everything else down around it, then cry about how you need more resources for “awareness.” Or you could just be kind to the people you see everyday.
But, those are old fashioned ideas that will probably be socially outlawed soon.
Ya’ll go ahead. While you remain constantly woke, I’m gonna grab a teddy bear, plop in the grass, pillow the earth, take a nap and not feel guilty at all about being at peace.
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