Why Bother to Wave?

Why Bother to Wave?

I have not driven down a two-lane highway in Nebraska for quite some time, but it has not been so long ago that I don’t remember what it was like. The traffic was always sparse, and slow moving. No one was in a hurry. The vehicles we’d meet on these roads that connected rural communities were mostly older pickup trucks. The drivers were usually men in worn out cowboy hats. Through bug splattered windshields, small waves were always exchanged in passing. This was how the native Nebraskans acknowledged others. It didn’t matter if you were an out of towner or not. It was just the way it was done. 

  A Short History in Waves

This lifting of the index finger greeting took less than a second with hardly any muscular effort exerted. The hand didn’t even have to leave the steering wheel. Eyes may or may not have met, but you knew you’d been seen and acknowledged by another human being on a lonely and quiet stretch of highway. It was a small, yet significant and a friendly thing to do. 

Taking road trips with our sons when they were young always included driving the quickest and most efficient route, usually on an interstate at 75 mph. But the high speed did not deter our kids from playing the “wave game” with other drivers or “honk your horn game” with the truckers. It was a competition of course. Whoever could get the most people to respond with a friendly wave of the hand or the most honks from a trucker’s horn, won. It helped to pass the time, kept them occupied and happy. 

Then there was the wave that came from the conductor who rode in the caboose at the end of a long train. I always anticipated seeing the man who rode in the last car, wearing a blue and white billed hat, dressed in bib overalls and waving his beefy arm in a casual manner. It not only signaled the end of the train, but the conductor’s wave gave notice to all of those who’d been watching and waiting for the train to pass. 

Idaho drivers are not like those friendly rural Nebraska drivers. They don’t lift a finger in passing. My grandchildren never learned to play the wave game and cabooses are no longer coupled to freight trains. So, is this friendly gesture of waving obsolete? Absolutely not. It’s just not as popular among the populace. But it does not mean it can’t or should not have a comeback.

For instance, I make a point of waving to others whenever I am out and about. While jogging down the street, I will lift my hand when passing another runner or walker. Even if they happen to have their ear buds in their ears, if and when they look up, they will catch my wave, sometimes even waving back or smiling. 

Fellow road bikers are the friendliest of the wavers. Passing each other on the roadways our fingers and sometimes even the whole hand lifts off the handlebar in greeting. Are bikers happier than runners or just more willing to notice others?

Then, just yesterday, while kayaking on a section of the lake where the railroad tracks run parallel to the water’s edge, an engineer lifted his beefy arm and waved to me. It was an amiable gesture. A wonderful exchange between two strangers. It made my heart leap. Funny how something so small can be so significant. 

Why bother to wave? It only takes a second, it uses minimal effort, but it could make a big difference to another human being. Go ahead, wave. I dare ya!

Why Bother Making Friends With Yourself?

Why Bother Making Friends With Yourself?

Making friends with ourselves is much like making friends with others. Being hospitable with ourselves or others includes speaking kindly, mutual respect and an awareness of needs. We might find that being congenial with ourselves to be more difficult than being affable to others, but it is just as important.

Wherever I Go

Wherever I go, I find myself there. There is no getting away from me. Unlike friends who come and go, we remain in our own company twenty-four hours a day seven days a week.  Are we in good company when we are with ourselves? That all depends. 

First of all, what do I hear myself saying? Is my self-talk critical and condemning? Do I “shame” myself?  If so, would I do the same to a friend? Most likely not. 

Sometimes a friend of mine, who is on the road to recovery from years of depression, will share with me some of the statements she hears herself saying. “You are so dumb.” “You are a fatty.” Thankfully, when she hears these messages, she knows how to combat them. But that has not always been the case. Listening to years of self-condemnation was similar to being committed to a bad relationship. Nothing good ever came out of it. Presently, she is working her way to the freedom that comes when we no longer berate ourselves. Instead of telling herself degrading statements, she is learning to tell herself truthful ones. 

“It is a lot of work to get well, but I am working hard to get there,” is an honest statement that encourages. Friends tell each other the truth, but with kindness. So, why not be truthful and kind to ourselves as well?

Secondly, we can be a good companion to ourselves as we learn how to respect ourselves. Self respect is not any different than respecting others. It just so happens that the person we are respecting is ourselves. Though none of my friends are perfect, I still appreciate them. So goes the same for me. I have my weaknesses, but I also have my strengths. I have a lot of room to grow, but I am always in the process of growing. As we are with others so we can be with ourselves. We can focus on weaknesses, but when we do, we miss out on seeing the beauty in strength. 

Finally, we can be a friend to ourselves as our awareness grows. For instance, the more I know someone, the more I know about them. And the more I know about them, the more I can tell when they are miffed, exasperated, or at the end of their rope. This is helpful knowledge to have in any relationship. 

The other night, while conversing with a friend over the phone, I noticed her subdued tone of voice. She wasn’t her usual jovial self. The next day, I invited her out to lunch. Munching on our salads, I was able to ask her if she was okay. With a heavy sigh she leaned closer to me and I listened while she unloaded some of her sadness. All she needed was someone who cared enough to listen and with that, her load got lighter. 

 It can be easy to see and consider the needs of others. We might even bend over backwards for their welfare. But showing the same concern for ourselves, well, that seems a little selfish. But noticing our own needs and doing something about them is just plain good self care. 

So why bother making friends with yourself? Being a good friend to ourselves makes being a friend to others even better.