I went for a run tonight just outside of Cooperstown, NY. It was more for exploration purposes than for intense cardio. Running and observing seem to be part of how I try to take in, process and begin to understand new places. I like my roaming runs because they allow me to see places that others don’t. Today I was running through a golf course near my motel and came across a guy fishing in a creek. The first time I ran by I did the hyper-polite, or perhaps anti-social thing, and didn’t make eye contact. When I looped back around I was planning on doing the same thing, but suddenly a big splash caught my attention. No one else was around, so the fisherman and I couldn’t help but make eye-contact. I stopped running, he grinned sheepishly and said, “When they see the lure, they just smack their tail like that; must have a dam or something around here.”
Can you believe it? Beavers, so far from Huron…A shock, I know.
What struck me wasn’t really the fact that there were beavers in New York State. I’m not quite that oblivious…What struck me was how quickly the barriers that I’d put up evaporated because of the simple shared experience of a beaver slapping its tail on the water. The two of us ended up talking about the beavers, living in New York State and what a nice night it was. It doesn’t sound like much, hell I didn’t even get his name, but it reminded me that more often than not you have something in common with another person and that it makes you feel good to talk and to share a simple moment.
From that moment on I gave a simple wave to every car that passed me as I finished my run and took satisfaction in the waves that I received in return. I think that sometimes we can be too polite, too worried about intruding, too focused on ourselves and too concerned with our daily missions that we forget to make the simple connections that keep us alive. If you want to track me down over the next 6 weeks, just ask around for the guy that’s waving at cars and saying hello to everyone.