On Building Community: Everyone waves

Everyone here waves.

It’s a thing, a cultural affect. Like cowboy hats in Texas is a thing.

During most mornings I take a walk down the old dirt road outside our house to watch the sun rise, fill my lungs, and get my body moving. It’s a ritual I do just for me but it has become a lovely way to connect with my neighbors, too. As I trek across the dust and rocks a truck may rumble by; from the steering wheel a hand goes up–perhaps with an accompanying nod or smile. But always without fail all five fingers salute my presence.

I deeply believe that feeling seen/acknowledged/respected is among the primary needs of every human being. And amazingly, the humble hand wave can do all this in an instant. Really.

That moment when eyes meet and a gesture is offered ties me to the person waving. We have connected–albeit briefly. I have been seen and I have seen.

The waving builds a community among those that would be strangers because you can’t go on to ignore that which you’ve taken the time to acknowledge. Now on my morning walks or when I am behind the wheel I take that split second to make a wave. I love the feeling of being a part of the whole and of taking the time to make my community stronger by acknowledging the presence of the people around me.

In a small town like ours you never know when you might really need the support of a neighbor. It could be the proverbial cup of sugar or an extra hand with the hay bales or even serious help when severe weather threatens. Those small everyday moments of taking the time to say, “I see you. You are worthy of noticing” means it’s so much easier to go to someone in a time of need. The path to their door has already been lightly paved.

So if you’re ever down a dusty dirt road in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom don’t be alarmed if you find people waving as you pass by. It’s our thing. Just raise a hand in response and you’ll be alright.



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