I recently signed myself up for a Whatcom SmartTrips account, which means if I bus, ride, or walk someplace (like work),instead of using a car I can log my miles and be entered for fun prizes. I logged a few days of walking in this sunny sunshine week, and it informed me that over the last month I’ve burned 1,100 calories walking/biking. Which is basically equivalent to how many cake calories I’ve eaten at work, so it works out, you know? Hahaha. It’s crazy to use such a simple tool that tracks the steps, pedals, or bus rides you take and then gives you the larger picture: miles, calories burned, gas money saved.
What if we could see the same larger picture with the people we spend time with? You’ve spent two years as roommates and spent approximately 340 hours belly laughing” or “you were the first to congratulate them in their new job.XP 400.” Obviously a point system with gift card rewards would break down the beauty of friendships and relationships inherent giving and sometimes selfless nature, but it’s a funny idea to think how the small choices we make inevitably effect other people’s lives. More than I want to admit.
Carpooling, walking, and taking the bus are all fundamentally more social than driving solo in your car. When driving by yourself, there is a large metal barrier between you and everyone else. You can barely make out faces of people driving next to you. You talk to no one except yourself, even if you’re yelling at the other cars. Is it anti-social to drive a car by yourself? Or is it just more convenient? Are people inconvenient? Most of the time, they get in the way of a lot of things you would like to accomplish within a timeframe. Especially the chatty ones. Apparently, I can be one of those people if you get to know me well enough and supply enough caffeine.
I don’t want to follow a God who grows weary of my chattiness. Who views my feelings and thoughts and time as a waste of, well, time. I read an article the other day about how small talk gets a bad rap because it seems meaningless, when in reality, it can serve as a connecting point between two people even if it’s brief and nothing substantial is talked about. It simply sends the message of: “Hey! I see you as a person and I’m willing to briefly converse to show that I acknowledge we are both individuals with worth (pharasing a lot here). Which gives me hope for the many seemingly insignificant conversations I have when handing over slices of cake to people at work. I asked a lady last week, “Are you celebrating anything today?” And she told me that she was marking the anniversary of the day her son had entered hospice. And my heart broke a little bit. I told her I also had anniversaries like that and she said, “So you understand” and I replied, “As much as I can.” I think that was a God moment (most moments are) because it was a time where small talk turned into an opportunity where two people could say that they understood each other as much as is possible in this life. Wouldn’t our relationships shift dramatically if we were able to understand each other’s experiences and emotions, or at least admit we were trying our best? I wish I could say that was true every time I interact with another human being.
Sometimes you just get tired. Or you try a new exercise routine and don’t drink enough water and end up with a splitting headache (true story). But the moments when you are able to be present and connect with people still matter, and the days when you’re tired or sick or whatever don’t cancel out the days you’re “on top of things.” It’s not a reward system, remember? Nobody is following you or asking you to keep a log. But maybe there are times when it seems like a friendship mastermind has put you in a conversation or time with a person you never expected or could’ve orchestrated, and somehow you are able to say, “Hey! You matter. You have worth.” Be brave and maybe a little caffeinated and try it out.
Got to go. Laundry is done.