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Reach out and touch someone

Posted: November 30, 2013 - 1:31pm

I was backing into a parking spot at my daughter’s school. I glanced and smiled at the lady parked next to me. She returned the smile and was reclined in her seat looking at her phone, counting down the minutes to go pick up her kid.

For a split second the thought came to me that I should say hi, but that means opening up her passenger side door, which might be pretty weird. Is that crossing a line? It was an “in the moment” kind of thing, so I chickened out and decided I didn’t want to be carried away in handcuffs, all because I don’t know what “boundaries” are.

So a crazy thing happened the next morning. I walked my son into his school, then fast walked through the cold air to get back into my car. A lady that’s a total stranger to me, never seen her in my life, opens up my passenger side door and starts chatting with me. She was nice, we small talked and laughed, then she shut the door and I drove away. She did exactly what I was afraid to do, and I’m so glad she did it. People shouldn’t be so scared to be friendly.

Sometimes you have to take risks and put yourself out there. We get so comfortable that it can ruin us. My husband and I often talk about how much better the world would be if people would just talk to each other again. There is a stigma these days that being friendly is obnoxious. You want to be private or respect someone else’s privacy. God forbid you say “hi” to someone and it offends them. It takes up their time in the day. It’s nosey. Maybe they’re natural introverts. Don’t make eye contact. But you know what I think? We’re being too sensitive. It’s OK to be human. Especially during the holidays when everyone’s mojo is on full blast.

Please enjoy a sigh of relief. It’s OK for people to want privacy and keep to themselves, not everyone is social. My husband and best friends are all introverts by nature, but they are still kind. They’re not super outgoing, but are always thinking of others.

Besides personality, I’m talking about that sad feeling when you walk into a room full of people staring down at their phones. I’m talking about being in the checkout line and staring at the $3 chapstick like it’s the most interesting thing in the world, when there’s a mom with a cranky baby that could use an adult conversation. It’s not about rude or polite, it’s the universal feeling of remembering how to be with people, enjoying relationship. It’s less about hating on technology and more about having a connection. I feel like our parents’ generation did it right, while we have to many ways to escape. Everyone is busy. Everyone has someplace to go. If the opportunity comes up to make a connection, seize the moment.

Why? Making a connection shows us it’s OK to care about others. Our kids need to see that.

Cyril Tourneur says, “Joy is a subtle elf; I think one’s happiest when he forgets himself.” The gift of joy is more fun when it’s shared. When you are busy sharing joy with others, you are less likely to worry about your own issues. Joy is such a good rush that even coffee can’t replace it! The image of someone talking really loud, shaking everyone’s hands, and being a total wackadoodle isn’t what I’m talking about. Spreading joy can be as big as helping someone that needs a hand or as small as a smile. We’re not perfect, we all have cranky days. There are just some simple lessons in humanity that I need to remember. It’s too easy to forget about everyone else and focus on myself. But that’s laaame. Recharging is good, alone time is good, but after a while I eventually retreat to my bedroom like it’s a fallout shelter and rue the light of day. So spread the cheer.

Here’s the thing, my kids need a mom that cares about others. Even strangers. Actually, I will talk to just about anything you put in front of me. My husband displays his love for family, but not so much strangers. That’s totally fine. Comfort zones are good, until they get boring, then you need adventure, until you want routine again, then you’re back in your comfort zone. This is how I operate. Yes, it’s frustrating, but it’s how the good Lord wired me. We can agree as humans, we’re all wired to receive joy, kindness, gentleness, and goodness. So pay the piper and do your part. We can always make our community a better place! Happy Holidays!

Kasi McClure enjoys being a wife and mother of two in Kenai. She can be reached at columnkasi@gmail.com.

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