Hi! This morning, I went for a run at about 630a. The streets were mostly deserted but occasionally I would pass someone on the sidewalk. When I did, I said, “hi.”
OK, I live in Boston. Boston is not a hi-saying town. I used to live in Austin, TX which is very much a hi-saying town–you say hi when you walk past someone, hi when you enter a retail establishment, hi to the people at the table next to you in a restaurant. It is no big deal. Nobody freaks out. They just say hi back.
I also used to live in NY City which, in its own way, is a hi-saying town too. Not in the big-smile-howdy-y’all way of Austin, but in its own slightly gruffer but still acknowledging your humanity way.
When I first moved to Boston, I suffered from the non-hi saying atmosphere. I wanted to greet my fellow humans so I began to say hi in secret. I would look at them and say hi in my mind, then quickly look away so as not to freak them out. (People here are very suspicious of friendliness.)
Saying hi sounds like such a tiny gesture, but opening to, taking in, and greeting our fellow humans as comrades on planet earth is not. As you go about this day, you could greet everyone you meet, whether silently or not. I mean, don’t be silly about it, just a simple “hi” while looking at them with friendship. Of course you can always say hi to them without them knowing it, as I sometimes do.
And you don’t have to stop at the people you encounter. You can say hi to the people on the news. As the credits scroll in a movie, you could say hi to each name. You could say hi to every emotion that arises in you. Excited? Hello! Sad? Hey there! Terrified? Howdy! Bored? Hola! I’m not saying you have to be overjoyed at everything, but we can still be polite enough to offer a greeting.
This small moment of greeting actually has the power to change everything. To say hi is to open up, take someone or something in without presupposing anything. Just an acknowledgment. No agenda, no defending of territory, no particular purpose. Just a small gesture of friendship.
These little gestures build up, you know.
Love and hi, Susan
PS. Each time I said hi to someone on my run this morning, they seemed a bit startled, looked at me, softened, smiled, and then you know what? They said hi back. Score one victory for sanity.