At about the four-mile mark of my run on Saturday, I am startled by a loud, “Hey!” I just about jumped out of my skin. Out of the corner of my left eye, I see an older man running out of his garage with garden shears in his hands. You see, that up until this point of my sunny (but cold) Saturday afternoon run, I had seen very few cars, passed very few walkers or runners, and was enjoying the eerie quiet of a weekend run. Not anymore.
“My wife and I watch you run by our house in the dead of winter, on the hottest days, and now, we watch you every day from our quarantined house. You are awesome. Thank you for the daily dose of normalcy.” And he waves and heads back into his garage. That’s it.
Wow! As my heart rate comes down (I honestly thought that I was going to get a shearing today), I am overcome by his compliment. I provided normalcy, which I am searching for, for someone. It put a pep in my running step and also gets me thinking more deeply about him and our sense of community.
I’ve run by that man’s house over one thousand times in the last decade, and when he is out in the yard, he has only grumbled a “hello” or gave a half wave. Today, in the worst pandemic of my lifetime, he compliments me and thanks me (and I thought he might even give me a garden shear in hand hug, which I would not have allowed because of social distancing). And this leads me to dreaming about what life will be like when our nation gets healthy.
I dream that we will be a community (neighborhood, county, state, nation, and world) again. I dream that small local business owner’s will make tons of money and get back on their business feet. I dream that grocery store shelves will be stocked with goods (especially toilet paper) that consumers will continue to buy. I dream that our students will come back to school and feel safe to learn in our classrooms and school buildings. I dream that when life gets hectic again we will remember this time that we slowed down and spent time with family and self-reflection. I dream that all of our health care providers will be recognized for their daily acts of heroism. I dream that all of my neighbors will wave and say “hello” when I pass them. I dream that humanity will be stronger after all of this.
What do you dream will happen?