The first sound I hear each morning, often before my alarm goes off, is the whine of my dog, Dublin. He loves his morning walk. Normally I have a foot or arm off the side of the bed when I sleep to control my temperature. Dublin takes that as a sign that he can push his nose into me to let me know that it’s time to get up. A gray fuzzy alarm clock with a wet nose.
I’m not a morning person. It takes my brain a half-hour or so and a cup of coffee to be fully functional. Walking Dublin is a jump start to my day. I’m not particularly conversational during the walks, which my wife has gotten used to when she walks with me, but I am thinking. Planning through my work day or my next fishing trip or thinking about different goals, new blog topics, etc., are often rolling through my mind.
Working from home during COVID has Dublin convinced he needs many walks during the day, so I’ve also gotten in the habit of taking him on a lunchtime walk. I have stated several times that I am a nerd, and my blog last week was on thinking through elements of life as experiments. My first thought was that many more people walk (with or without a dog) at lunchtime in my neighborhood. I also noticed that several walkers or drivers would always wave and smile as they passed you. I appreciated the waves; any connection to people these days seems like a treat.
One afternoon a few weeks ago, I decided to undertake some experiments while on the dog walks. I wondered if I waved to people proactively, would I get more return waves than if I didn’t wave. Over the course of the last few weeks, I would alternate days of waving first versus waiting for others (I always returned a wave). I found that I got a wave nearly twice the amount of time if I waved first. It makes a lot of sense that people will return kindness or outreach from others, but not always offer it.
I’m not an extrovert, and I don’t enjoy small talk, so this is a change in behavior for me. Talking about fishing and learning about fishing are things I enjoy, so I wanted to give the experiment a try on the river. Between late Friday afternoon and Saturday, I fished three streams. Each time I would pass by another angler, I said hello and asked how they were doing: nothing too intrusive. I wanted to avoid bothering anyone looking for solitude. I spoke to five anglers at the three streams, and four of them engaged in short, but meaningful conversations. They shared various information that included how long they had been fishing, what flies/style they were using, how many fish they had caught (if any), and general well wishes. The fifth angler was cordial, but obviously did not want to be bothered.
Driving home yesterday afternoon, I thought about my experiment and how I appreciated what I learned from the other anglers. I enjoyed the positive interactions. There is a lot to learn from and enjoy about our fellow anglers. During this time when politics and the news seem divisive and angry, we all need some good interactions. While describing my experiment to my son and daughter this morning, my son said, ”Who couldn’t use some more kindness?” Indeed.
Be the first to say a kind word on the river, in our homes, and in our communities. You can make good connections, you can learn something new, and “who couldn’t use some more kindness”?