by Julia Jacobsen , www.agswag.us
I blew in late to my small town Chamber meeting. I knew it might be over by the time I arrived, but I was excited to share something with the group.
I reluctantly joined Chamber over a year ago. Reluctantly, because I’m not a meetings type. It’s rare to find a meeting that accomplishes much. Another community member gently discussed Chamber with me. I think she sensed my fear of meetings. It took over a year for me to even consider it. My business isn’t a storefront so I wasn’t sure that I had a reason to be a member, yet here I was racing to get to the meeting so I could share something simple and lighthearted.
When I arrive, the room feels somber. The discussion is about our only bank in town “temporarily closing” due to staffing issues. There was little to no notice or communication. In my head I’m using air quotes over the word “temporary.” It reeks of writing on the wall that it won’t be temporary at all.
The thing I was wanting to share with the group doesn’t feel so important now. It would be silly to raise my hand and tell them my plans to wave at everyone I see. Right…?
Recently I was driving with my son through St. John and every car we passed and every person walking on the street waved. I thought my son might know them, but he said, “Nope, everyone does it.” A plan is forming in my head that I too shall wave at everyone. It sounds silly that one has to plan this, but I wave at people I know well or recognize. I don’t willy-nilly wave at everyone, though. Why? Not?
What if people think I’m weird? What if I wave at someone that doesn’t like me, or maybe someone I don’t like? Or what if I just try it out and wave the month of May. What if I like it? What if the recipients of my wave like it? I’ll report back. I’ve come to some conclusions about my “temporary waving” project. It’s feeling a bit permanent.
This is the completion of my 30-day challenge to wave at everyone I see in my small town. Did my attempt to wave at everyone I see move mountains? Nope. Did it change something inside for me? Yes, I think it did and it goes back to the notion that you notice what you focus on. I do in fact think people are waving more. Does it have anything to do with me? It is rather unlikely but if it did that’s cool too.
During the challenge there were days it seemed as if I waved and waved, and nobody noticed. It felt awkward the first few days. There are so many different ways to wave, and I feel like I tried them all! There were days I was on my wave game, and everyone waved back. There were days I ran all my errands and forgot to wave. This was an experiment to be more aware and interject the friendliness I look forward to while living in a small town. Harrington may not be known for the town that waves (yet) but in my part of the world it does feel friendlier.
It is easy to live in these small towns as years pass by and have them be what they are with little change, the good and the bad. The good is filled with kindness, donations that allow a small business to treat 100 people to “Free Hot Chocolates” in a pay it forward blessing. Gift tags from the tree of sharing that are plucked up by people eager to shop, wrap and deliver gifts to those in our community who could use a little help. There are people that notice the weather is going to blow Baby Jesus right out of the manger so they sneak him home for a warm night and an evening of touch ups from their spouse who just happens to be artistic and can brighten up the babe’s face with a fresh coat of paint. The bad… well there can be a little of that too but I’m not going to focus on that. I don’t want to live in a naive world, but my mental health requires me to focus on the good and for now I will continue to wave at everyone. It’s feeling like a permanent change.