It’s hard not to be affected by all the bad news in the world. The last few days, I’ve found it hard to sleep and concentrate.
Terrorism. Guns. Political rhetoric. The news is filled with sad stories. There is less daylight. Almost everyone I know has a cold.
A few things have helped. My class, for one. The writers work so hard. They inspire me so much. My editorial notes. The Worst Fairy Godmother Ever makes me so happy. Also reading about spontaneous acts of good will, like the one Naomi Shihab Nye writes about in Gate A-4.
So I decided to a tiny something to help battle pessimism in my neighborhood. Yesterday, as I walked to work, I went out of my way to say “Good morning,” to every single person I saw.
(My walk is a little more of a mile, through neighborhoods to my office at Northwestern University. Usually, I use my walk as a sort of moving meditation. I turn off my phone and walk silently, and usually end up with a few good ideas for my WIP.)
But today, I kept my head high.
At first, it wasn’t hard. I live between two elementary schools, so the first people I saw were grandmothers with babies in strollers (Note: grandmothers with babies ALWAYS say hello with a beautiful smile), and mothers and fathers chasing young children to the school’s playground. They were easy, too. But as I walked toward the center of town, the people I said hello weren’t all like me. They were old, young. All races. All genders. (I LOVE Evanston!!!)
The best things happened.
I got a lot of smiles. A lot of “And a good morning to you.” One guy shook my hand. Another bought me a coffee. One young guy took his earbuds out to ask me what I had said.
“Just good morning.” I smiled. (A little sheepishly.)
“Oh cool,” He said. “Good morning!” He gave me a thumbs up, before walking away.
As I continued to greet people, others could hear me. Some said, “Good morning,” to me first. I also heard others saying Good Morning to other people. It was sort of contagious.
I know that simply saying, “Good morning” isn’t enough to change the world. But it is a start. It is a way to begin knowing the people in your community. It is a way of saying that you are ready to listen.
I don’t think I’m alone in this. I think there are a lot of people in our world who would like to stop the shouting. I think it is our responsibility to try.