Down the street from my house there is a beautiful river front park that has a trail that may or may not be accessible to the public, but there is no signage so its quite vague. The trail runs parallel to a railroad track (probably why its technically not for public use), but I was living in the “better to ask for forgiveness than for permission,” state of mind and decided this would be my path for my daily walk. I was by myself on this trail, no one else around. It was a beautiful, sunny, and calm day.
As I kept walking, a train started to approach. As it began to pass me, I could see the conductor, so I raised my hand and waved. They stuck their arm out the window and did the same. It was a simple, quick interaction of a few seconds, but it struck me in a way I didn’t expect.
They had no idea who I was; nor I, they. No idea what their beliefs are, or political views. What their favorite music is, or whether they’re a dog or a cat person, and yet, we both were compelled to say hello. To let the other person know, I recognize you are here. I see you.
Is it just me or have we have lost this mindset?
Over the last few years the political climate of the western culture has turned our perception of others from “innocent till proven guilty,” to “probably guilty so better to be cautious.” This has become, in my opinion a cancer to our social construct.
I can tell you that when that train conductor waved back at me I felt seen. I felt seen, and appreciated for just being me. For just being here. I realized later the reason it was so profound to me was because it felt so foreign. To recognize another without contempt, or caution, or pre-judgement. All I wanted to say in that moment was “I see you. It’s great to see another human.” They said the same thing back.
All we did was wave.