The Thickness of Relationship
Is every castaway someone marooned on a deserted island? It is the first image that comes to mind for me; however one can be a castaway who has been cast away in the midst of a thriving population. This circumstance can be precursor to depression if not addressed by finding and maintaining meaningful relationships with the Spirit and others more worldly. Both are essential to remain whole. I found one such worldly opportunity one morning on my routine walk. I did not recognize the potential for a lasting relationship but looking back I recognized it building over time and a few miles.
It was 6:45AM and the sun was still below the horizon but teasing a new day with its light. My walking route loops through the neighborhood and weaves around approximately a mile or so. One section I walk through is new construction; some houses built and occupied; others underway; still other lots empty and unimproved. In a bend on the road I came across an empty lot and standing along the curb was the opportunity. He stood silently and watched me approach.
As I came nearer, I spoke, “Good morning!”
He said nothing in return. He stood tall and never moved a muscle. He was square shouldered and had a few visible scars that described a rough life in his past. Despite his scars he stood strong and unmoving as though at attention. Oddly, he did not even twitch at my greeting and remained silent and stared straight ahead avoiding eye contact.
This lack of response is common in my experience. It happens when you make eye contact with a complete stranger and speak a greeting. Not sure what happens in their brain, but I am guessing they are unnerved by a complete stranger openly speaking to them. Is it an invasion of privacy. Is it a trick to slip into their space uninvited? Who knows, so I kept walking.
As I began to walk away, I left him with a parting comment to defuse any lingering angst my unsolicited greeting may have triggered, “Have a good one, brother!”
I had the option to judge his nonresponse as rudeness, but I had no clue what was going on in his world. What prompted him to stand on the curb alone and ignore me completely. No matter, I had most of my mile yet to go. I wondered about him but only for a hundred yards or so. I know I did my part and spoke a sincere greeting. What he chose to do with it was his business.
The next day I repeated my walk and found him stretched out on his back in the dirt. He was still intact a far as I could determine, so I stopped and helped him up to stand and dusted him off. I asked, “Are you okay?
He stood where I helped him stand and said nothing.
“Do you need help?”
“Well, take good care, man!” I continued my walk and wondered if he was a castaway too. There was a chance he was deep in his own depression and speaking was too much work to engage in readily. That is when I decided to name him since he showed no inclination to converse with me. I was feeling an attachment whether he was or not, so he became Wilson that morning.
I continued to walk each morning and passed him by with a cheery “Good morning, Wilson!” He never spoke but always remained vigilant in his accessibility in the space he occupied. Strangely, it felt like there was a relationship building between us, and the only need I felt necessary was to continue my greetings each morning. Someday he may respond. Or not.
Funny thing how relationships can blossom out of moments so innocent and unplanned. Funny thing how I felt a relationship growing despite getting nothing in return. Except for my one-sided morning exchange there was nothing coming back to me that I could discern.
I fully expect that some morning in the future Wilson will be gone from his bend in the road. I will wonder what happened to him. I will wonder if he has blended in and become another brick in a wall somewhere. Regardless of his fate, I will still toss out my greeting to his memory, “Good morning, Wilson!”
Funny thing how our relationship became so thick…as a brick.
I know this little post is a cross between tongue-in-cheek and ridiculous, but it shows that it is possible to maintain a relationship even when it is only one-way…even with an inanimate brick. Call it crazy or twisted logic, or quite possibly therapeutic. Whatever you choose to decide about this keep in mind relationships must be offered before they can be nurtured into something sustainable and two-way.
More short stories are found at Learning By Living.
Gary G. Wise
Workforce Performance Strategist, Coach, Speaker
Web: Living In Learning