Monday, August 29, 2011

Needing More Hellos

"Why can't we get all the people together in the world that we really like and then just stay together?  I guess that wouldn't work.  Someone would leave.  Someone always leaves.  Then we would have to say good-bye.  I hate good-byes.  I know what I need.  I need more hellos."  ~Charles M. Schulz

It's been almost two weeks since I had to kiss my firstborn good-bye. Two weeks.  That's not that much time at all and yet every time I see him on Skype, hear his voice or read his words I know it might as well be a decade.  Already so much has changed for him...navigating the world -- yes that big wide world -- pretty much on his own with three stumbling and bumbling room-mates for companionship.  He seems older already.  He seems more worldly and yes, more moments have happened in these two weeks where his eyes have been opened.  I love it and I hate it in pretty equal doses.  I'm so thrilled for him to be on this adventure and so sad for me that our adventure with him in our daily life has ended.  

He's fine.  No, actually, he's pretty great.  He likes his room-mates, he has averted disaster and he's found his way to class and to food and to friends all relatively easily.  Heck he's even done his laundry!  

I can't help but reflect on my own going away moments.  I really don't remember being fearful at all -- although I'm sure I must have been nervous.  I just remember the adrenalin.  I remember being excited and ready and so curious about all of the new places and new people and new things I was seeing and learning.  I was thrilled and hopeful.  I knew I could do it and I wanted to go for it.  I couldn't get over the very different and yet so very much the same.

I remember the kindness of strangers: that first day on my bike searching for my Classics class when out of nowhere a fellow biker pointed out the correct building I couldn't figure out from my map.  I remember the professors who told good stories and recited lines of poetry from their passionate hearts.  I remember feeling super cool hanging out in the Coffeehouse after class with my 75 cent bagel and cream cheese. I remember the parties and the craziness and the FUN!  Mostly, I remember the new friends who made me laugh and think and wonder about things I'd never thought about before. 

So...when I wish for more hellos from my big guy, I just remember how many, many, many hellos he is getting everyday. It's tantalizing to think about all of the paths he is crossing and all of the experiences he is having each new day of his adventure.  

And, it makes me want to have more hellos too.  I look a little longer for those confused faces trying to figure out a new school, a new team or a new town.  I find myself reaching out...pointing out a building, a person who knows the answer or a website that might help.  

A few years ago during the summer I had an itch to go to the beach.  My baby was weeks old but that didn't stop me; the beach was calling our name.  It was a little reckless but I packed up a picnic, good sunscreen and lots of sand toys and we started our adventure.  Two freeway exits down the road I got a flat tire.  I was close enough to home that I didn't freak out but it was a very vivid, deep feeling of vulnerability and suddenly I felt like a jerk on the open road with three kids and a tiny baby. What was I thinking? 

Two young hispanic guys stopped their car in front of ours.  I told the kids to be silent and I opened my window.  One of them offered: "I'm a mechanic, I know how to change a tire.  I'd like to help you change yours."

I was shocked and thrilled and very emotional.  He changed my tire like the expert he was and I sat in awe at a skill I needed to have.  Within  ten minutes we were ready to go.  I searched through my purse and tried to pay him.  He shyly smiled.  He refused and said: "I just got married a few weeks ago.  I would hate to have my wife out on a freeway like this and I would hope someone would help her the way I am helping you. "  That sacred moment of silent connection between us was all we needed:  I thanked him, and vowed to pay it forward.  He just smiled.

Often I think of that good deed...that kindness because he could see his wife in me.  Without effort, I can see Jack in all of the college kids around my town and I begin my hellos.  I can see myself in the new teacher and it dawns on me that that's the secret.  Seeing ourself in others gives us the willingness to say hello, to reach out and break down barriers.  Knowing it could be you gives you the grace to be patient, forgiving, understanding and most of all kind.  You're a little more tender and a little less ready to pounce.

So...deep's time for fewer good-byes and more hellos.

Hello world -- you're pretty beautiful.  

No comments:

Post a Comment