Monday, August 29, 2005

Community of the Path

This is an explanation why I wanted to join the Us/Them discussion tomorrow.

I started with an honest but painful explanation. I edited it three times and still felt tortured reading it. And I didn't want to torture you while offering some insight (and no photos. What is wrong with you, Debra Ann?? don't you know we crave eye candy? I hear you all thinking...)

Anyway, I went for a walk with the dogs.

And thought about the "community of the path" while we were out.

There is a walking path along Refugio Valley Rd. in Hercules that runs the length of the street (about 2.5 miles). It is used daily.. and all day long. The elder Chinese who practice TaiChi every morning in the park, finish with a walk. Mothers with strollers head out from about 9 am. to noon. The Firemen stationed nearby get there walks/runs in there. We walk our dogs and catch up with friends. I would guess that an average 200 people step along this strip of blacktop daily (not counting the students coming and going from the highschool/middle school). Your typical community path.

BUT, most of the travelers practice a uniquely charming habit that has never been formalized. It's a variation on the standard practice of nodding when you pass someone on a path.

The first time you approach a fellow traveler on Refugio, you
1. make eye contact, then
2. say "good morning/afternoon/evening".

and here's the really unique part:
because most of us walk part way up the path, then turn around and return to our cars, we often pass some of the same people a second time. and the common practice here changes:

1. make eye contact again...
2. say "have a good day, now".

It's a very subtle way of acknowledging all around that "I see you, and though I've seen you and greeted you earlier today, I will likely not see you again today."

Simple. But a whole lot of sub-text exists in these phrases. And a lot of respect.

Now all but the dullest reader will see that travelling a path is an easy allegory for moving through life... How many different ways do we pass by each other?

In real life... driving on the freeways, standing in line at a store, sitting at nearby tables in the coffeeshop. Online, we might be reading blogs, making comments, reading the same mailing list. We interact in casual ways in all these situations.

All fraught with chances for misunderstandings... or ripe for finding commonality.

How can we as a SOCIETY develop habits/guidelines/methods of interaction that acknowledge each person in an inclusive way? How can we build a "community of the path" on every path in life?

It's gotta start somewhere. And I'm hoping the conversation tomorrow will be my start.

Then, tomorrow, I promise.. pictures!! (What? those sunsets didn't satisfy you? ) And since ROCKSTAR is Tuesday night.. we know that coming soon is the mindless babbling...Who ROCKS?? Who blew it badly??

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