I meet a man walking down the path on the river on an almost daily basis. He always wears black. Lets pretend I didn’t notice that, because it would be bordering on the rude or inquisitive. The problem is that we see each other several times a week. He may or may not be going down to check on his potatoes, but it is unlikely. What to do ?. First concession is to raise your eyebrows slightly to acknowledge you’ve seen each other, and then scuttle on past before a more anxiety producing communication ensues. This can go on for several days, or even weeks, but finally can come to be seen as rude, and therefore personal. This would never do.
Time to wheel out the second concession. Raise eyebrows, but now sort of nod the head as well, as if to say, “Good Morning”. Now hold on. Do not actually say “Good Morning” under any circumstances. This would be regarded as forward and eccentric. Neither of which are characteristics of mine as you know. Mind you, after a time, if you keep meeting ,a verbal “Good Morning” might be required. What comes after that reeks of Armageddon. so lets hope that never happens, or so I thought.
Under natural circumstances we reach out to people because we must. We work together because we have to. Pooling our abilities is central to survival and this is implicitly understood. In the city, this fundamental connection is largely avoided to the point of extinction except in the home or workplace, because space is at a premium.
Today, as I went for my morning walk I noticed that the river is still very high and my normal path was blocked off. as I thought about it, my man in black arrived from the opposite direction. Spurred on by curiosity about the river I stopped him. “Sorry to bother you”, I said, “Have you ever seen the river as high as this”. He went off on a brief but informative explanation about the water levels, and as he talked, I noticed he had the kindest eyes. Sometimes the pressured conventions of city life wall us off from seeing what is important.