Running along the waterfront during my lunch hour today, I was drawn to the people there, in particular, their eyes. On this sunny hot afternoon, the trail was peppered with kids out of school blading, biking, and many were escaping the heat in the river. There were walkers, a few runners and those using the memorial benches that are intermittently placed along the way. There are times during my run when I come in rather close quarters with others enjoying the use of the trail. At these moments, when my eyes connect with someone else, there is always a friendly hello, may it be by way of a smile, a simple nod, or the word uttered outright. (I wonder many times how loud I am since I listen to rather fast loud music during the run).
I commonly enjoy this familiar connection with the strangers I share my day with. I was reminded that everywhere I have lived or visited I have had this relationship with the locals. I scanned my memories for all of the different places I have been in Canada where I have made this connection. From the small fishing towns in British Columbia, to the bigger cities on the Island and even in Vancouver, a simple ‘hello’ connection was always reciprocated and appreciated. Here in Ontario, I, above all, enjoy my ‘hello’ connection in smaller towns as it can lead to a discussion and then a friendship. I have experienced this friendly connection in many average sized towns, in addition to the larger ones enjoying the response in Ottawa, London and Kingston. The only exception being Toronto where I was pursued by many of those I ‘connected’ with, some just looked at me as if I were a crazy person, some pushed me to accept a flyer, and one stranger scared the hell out of me after he followed me onto the subway. It was dangerous. I quickly learned not to practice this human relationship there! But don’t get me wrong, I still love that city. This is just a warning, ‘when in Toronto…’
Toronto aside, I continue to make my ‘hellos’ part of my day.
Of special note today, I met a blind man wearing large dark sunglasses playing a striking bongo under the train bridge. He was not busking there, just playing. I had to pause my IPOD as I approached. He played beautifully. He could hear me coming; he turned, smiled and nodded in my direction as I slowed my pace. I uttered my ‘hello’. He stopped playing for an instant, raised his hands to the bridge he was under and praised the acoustics of this location. We chatted briefly, inconsequential daily stuff, I did advise him that the train was due in a few minutes, he was excited about that. He made me excited about it too. I could envision his sensation when the train rushed by, the thunderous noise the train would make, the shake it would create in the earth under the bridge, this man was excited to experience this, feel it.
I resumed my run with a smile and an uplifting that I really cannot explain. Although I could not see his eyes, I saw this man, and we connected.