Mo has told me that in Ghana, on any given day, you might be walking along a dirt road by yourself, looking out towards the horizon, and you might see a speck, also moving, way off in the distance. As you move towards it, and it towards you, you can see that it is a figure, probably human, and it’s hard to look away. You keep moving, but you can’t help noticing that the once speck/now-figure is waving his arms. Closer still, maybe 2 or 3 hundred yards you notice that he has his hands around his mouth. You can barely make out what he is saying but slowly you figure it out.
HELLLLLOOOOOO! MY FRIEND!!!!
This guy does not know you. He probably doesn't want to hang out with you, in fact most likely he is in a rush to get somewhere else, a place that is far and that he needs to return from in the same day. Most likely he has never seen you and will never see you again. He is just doing what you do when you see another human out in the world: you say hello. You smile. You act without judging. Who cares if that person is a jackass or stupid or listens to talk radio or is a hipster or belonged to a sorority or has different taste than you. You are both people, and you are both walking down a road. You say hello.
I was thinking this yesterday when I walked past a girl who said “Uhn” to me quietly and kept walking with her head down. I said “uhn” back and smiled with my mouth only. It made me tired. It made me tired not because I was dying to have a human connection. I avoid people all the time, I judge them, I make assumptions. Sometimes I just want to be by myself! But it made me tired because not saying hello caused so much more interior chatter than just saying it and moving on.