The secret of Life: Love doesn’t need a reason to be expressed

Stopped in traffic, taking the long way around to get the gift of Love

There is a stretch of road, between Greenwich and Battenville, NY (on Rt. 29) that has been under construction for a few weeks and whenever possible, I take this route because of one man. I don’t know his name or anything about his background, but I wouldn’t have to describe his physical features for you to figure out who he is also.

His (official) job is to stop and start traffic, but while he’s flagging people through, he looks right in your eyes, (like he’s looking to see a friend) and then he waves, smiles and sometimes even dances as he throws his arms open wide and says, “Have a great day!” or some other equally happy comment. I love seeing him because somehow it feels like he really sees me. As I drove past him yesterday, I rolled down my window and said, “You know the secret of life don’t you!?” and he shook his head yes and gave me a beautiful smile.

This is in such stark contrast to an experience that I’d had at the grocery store a couple of days earlier. I’d gotten in line behind a woman (who I know a little bit) and we both said “Hi”. Then a man (also know him a little) got in line behind me, didn’t say hi, but noticed the woman in front of me and said, “Hi…..!” and then they started up a very friendly conversation, with me standing between them. It had nothing to do with me, but I felt oddly left out.

As cool as they were to me, I wasn’t gushing effusively over them either because we don’t really know each other. But the flag man doesn’t know everyone who drives past him, and this doesn’t stop him from being right out there with his friendly open greeting….hum. I wonder if I could be that friendly or would I be afraid of looking silly or inappropriate? I might feel embarrassed if my greeting wasn’t returned or worse, looked on with scorn.

All of these reasons for holding back; all of them reasonable and logical. And not one of them capable of bringing more life, laughter or love to my (or anyone else’s) life.

While we have the gift of life, it seems to me the only tragedy is to allow part of us to die – whether it is our spirit, our creativity or our glorious uniqueness. Gilda Radner

18 thoughts on “The secret of Life: Love doesn’t need a reason to be expressed

  1. What I really love about this story, especially the grocery store exchange (or lack of) is how well it depicts the notion that we see ourselves in others – that the universe brings us the people/events that we need in order to better see who we ourselves are. Thanks Mary – still just LOVE your blog.

  2. Hmmm, Would you like to give the highway man my name and address, Mary…I wonder if he’s as jolly at home as he is in his job. Sounds like he would be. This very morning I’m living with Mr. Gloomy Guts who is not speaking to me because I cut the grass between the trees yesterday. They line our laneway and for some reason he doesn’t like the grass cut there but I forgot and cut it. Sheesh, there are more things in life to worry about and when you meet a nice sunny person, they lift your spirits greatly. Now back to the heavy cloud in the familyroom.
    SandyP…and the day is only starting.

    • I volunteer in a wonderful local library where everyone is greeted and welcomed with a cheery smile as they walk in. This was quite a surprise for me since it never happened at any other library I’ve visited, nor for that matter at very many other places either. It really made me feel welcomed and included when I first visited this place. and it still does for that matter every time I go in. A very powerful, positive feeling! I’m here, I exist, I’m included! .
      And, Sandy P. how about if you let Mr. Gloomy Guts mow the lawn from now on while you sit on the deck and eat bon bons.
      From Fran

  3. I enjoy your posts–they’re always good reminders of what’s important in life. The man on the highway reminds me of two men I’ve seen many times. One stood for years on a corner in Berkeley and, wearing bright orange gloves, waved at every single car that passed. He always put a smile on my face as I waved back. He did it for years. Now there’s a crossing guard at a school near my home who waves at everyone–what a gift of love to all who drive by!

  4. Living along Route 29, I encounter this experience almost daily too, Mary. I love to watch the expressions on the faces of the people as they drive by and are greeted by this wonderful man. He literally sings hello and blesses everyone as they pass!
    Thank you also for the quote from Gilda Radner – so appropriate with your message today.
    ox

  5. Isn’t it amazing how good we feel when we are welcomed, as this man welcomes the people who drive by. Mary, for some reason your post made me think of this great passage from “Moby Dick,” and how true it can seem as we view the world (and how we must work to challenge it). Sometimes it is so much easier to appreciate a stranger than a co-worker, family member, or neighbor.

    “Seat thyself sultanically among the moons of Saturn, and take high abstracted man alone; and he seems a wonder, a grandeur, and a woe. But from the same point, take mankind in mass, and for the most part, they seem a mob of unnecessary duplicates, both contemporary and hereditary.”

  6. I was travelling on a plane and I ended up with a middle seat. On either side were two young men who seemed to know each other. They talked back and forth with me in the middle, not excusing their impolite behavior. I asked them if they wanted to trade seats. One of the young men said, “no, those were the seats they chose.” It was very rude of them. I’m sorry I didn’t speak up. I will never let myself be in a situation like that again.

  7. Dear Mary. I love this post! I too have encountered the occasional lighthearted highway worker whose job is to control traffic…..and have been delighted by their genuine joy at greeting people with their gift of love and happiness. I think when we ourselves also exude love and kindness where ever we go, not only do we spread sunshine and light, we nurture those qualities within ourselves. Thanks for reminding me to focus on goodness today.

  8. I passed that jolly man twice yesterday outside of Greenwich, going and coming back to Vermont! And he points to you like someone on a stage who sees someone in the audience they know and love and wants to acknowledge seeing them! The energy of his ‘giving’ is so strong, so high. And the second time it was like he remembered from the first tiime! Such a warm sunny surprise on a pretty country road…I drove past the construction feeling wonderful and I was actually hoping I would get stopped for the one lane traffic on the way home to get more of his smile and ‘hug’! I love the contrast between your two stories Mary, and your thoughtful conclusion that despite all the logical reasons for holding back, not one is capable of enhancing our life. You’ve driven home yet again, another, deeper reason to give someone our smile, and more, whether they want it or not. I remember you telling me once that we are responsible for the gift, the giving…we are not responsible for how it is received…a risk worth taking? After seeing ‘him’, I think so! Happy day everyone!

  9. I’ve done that SEVERAL times myself. I get pretty bummed out when I get there and it’s the kid on his cell phone instead 😦 When I lived in the midwest, this kind of “make a hard job fun” and a sense of sharing pride in all work was much more common so the first time I came upon this man, it made my week! His genuine sense of fun and engagement, in an important job that most people look down upon, is infectious and I’ve gone out my way several times
    over the summer just to see what he’ll come up with next. And the fact that, even though hundreds if not thousands of cars pass him daily, he remembers people and our cars – is THE BEST!

  10. I love that guy too! I posted on Facebook about him last week. I would drive out of my way to interact with him.

  11. What a feel good post Mary! His ministry is giving smiles and good cheer! and you have passed them now across thousands of miles intersecting our hearts, right where we need it most! Kathye, thanks for sharing Mary’s words to you about we are responsible for sharing the gift, not responsible for how it may be received, and the beautiful thing is the well from which the gifts of love are drawn is bottomless. The more we dip, the more we are filled. And the more there is to pass on.

  12. I take early morning walks and as I pass people I say “good morning”. Some people respond, but most just walk by. Yesterday as i Passed a young woman who looked angry,I said “Good Morning”, and she gave me a big smile and said “Good Morning” back. I hope that this helped make her day better.

  13. Good post as always Mary. A few weeks ago I stopped my car because of a young man holding up his sign that read “STOP”. I waited with my car windows down and I heard this young man say on his walkie-talkie “I have just an old lady in a green car”. He turned his sign around and I continued on my way, but with a big smile on my face and a wave to him as I passed.He probably didn’t think my ears were that good to hear him. I loved it and now I refer to myself as just an old lady in a green car. Happy Wednesday Flock.

  14. One of the highlights of the DNC in Charlotte was the police officers who spontaneously danced while directing traffic. Got lots of press.

  15. While my story has a little bit different twist…I once rode through a construction area for several weeks on my way to work. If I drove the family station wagon (ok, this was back in the late 1980s), I got ignored by the men directing traffic. However, if I drove my husband’s 300 ZX, I got looks, waves and smiles. They sure weren’t seeing the real me now, were they? LOL The thought of this still makes me smile for some reason…
    I believe we should keep a smile on our face, say hello to others, be a bigger person and make the effort to go out of our way to be friendly. The rewards will be worth it…
    xoxo Marian

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