On a beautiful spring day in 2010, Peter and I went with Angie and Soraia for a hike in our nearby mountains. Only a twenty minute drive from Fort Collins, Bobcat Ridge Open Space hosts trails that wind through grasslands and into the foothills overlooking town As we walked the two Rotary high school exchange students strolled ahead of us and chatted as teenage girls do.
Because Bobcat Ridge is so close to town, quite a few people were on the trail that day. Mountain Bikers, people on horseback and hikers like us were enjoying the space, the day, the chance to get out and be in nature. And almost without exception as we passed each one, we got a smile, eye contact, and a lovely “Hello,” which we returned in kind. It’s something that most seem to do out here, especially on the trails.
After the fifteenth person passed, smiled and spoke, Angie, who is from Buenos Aires, Argentina, slowed her pace, turned to us and said: “You know, when I first came here I wondered about this habit. One day, as I was riding on the bike path through town with my host dad, I asked him: “So do you just know everyone here?”
As we all laughed together, I was struck by the beauty of this message. Our willingness to share a smile and a nod on these lovely natural trails reminds me of the yogic salutation – “Namaste.” It is usually accompanied by the gesture of placing the palms together in a prayer position and holding them over one’s heart while making eye contact. Loosely translated, Namaste means: “The Divine in me recognizes and honors the Divine in you.”
I know that in large cities like Angie’s, where people live in close proximity, the culture dictates a certain level of privacy. Speaking to and smiling at everyone on the street would be considered rude or even worse, crazy. But out in nature, and in my smaller community, I find this simple habit makes the hike a richer experience…
How do you feel when guided to share a smile and a nod in your daily adventures?