Monday, March 11, 2013

Where's Our Sense of Community? THE WAVE REVOLUTION!

I love it when I hear the expression..

"This is the just the world we live in." Or "It didn't used to be like this ... What ever happened to the good ole' days when the world was such a better place?"

Because "PEOPLE" are the ONLY contributing factors in WHY the world is the way it is.

Let me explain.

In reading the Happiness Project ... I have skipped around a bit.  First off my quest for a full nights sleep is not going to plan ... however, majority of the past few nights- I have gone to bed before 11pm.. which for me is a BIG Deal.  Not to give excuses .. I came down with a fierce cold at the start and sleeping upright hasn't been ideal in pursuing the perfect bedtime routine.  HOWEVER, I am trying and will not give up.

Ok so... this past week I decided I am going to read the Happiness Project in accordance with what I observe as well as my happiness list of priorities as stated a few blog post ago.  (To simplify - I am skipping around a bit)

I decided to combine a few of her Project Ideas such as Mindfulness and Attitude and apply that towards this topic.  SENSE OF Community.  I wish she would have had a chapter to discuss how her happiness impacts community.  

I grew up in a town about 50 plus miles west of where I live now.   It is a small farming community with hard working families that take great pride in their community.

To give you an example,  football games are a big deal.  Generations of families come to watch the local teams battle it out.  People proudly wear their school colors in the local grocery store.   Moms, Dads, Grandparents proudly wear buttons of local athletes.  You truly get that sense of community support for the athletics and in addition to all that my community has to offer.

My hometown is a town of roughly 3,000-5,000 people.  Homogenize, quiet, clean and very little crime.  

I remember growing up and perfecting the wave while driving.  My hand was usually engaged ready to go at the first sign of a familiar passing driver.  I waved even if I didn't even know the person passing me.. it was just what I was taught to do.  

I remember thinking if my car or tire blew out on the side of the road driving back and forth from my summer job ... I didn't worry about being stranded or stuck because someone would come along and help without any hesitations.  (This was before cellphones being readily available - I had an emergency BAT phone in my console - INSERT... OMG she is old)

I felt safe and comfortable knowing that I could rely on fellow community members to help in a time of need.  TO this day, when I go home to visit my family, people still wave, people still pull over to help a stranded vehicle and I still see lots of buttons and blue and gold.

Recently my husband and I took a quick trip out West.  We found ourselves up in the South Dakota area .. along the desolate stretch of I90 East.  Where the Badlands begin following the Custard Forest area.  All that was between our truck and the next town was a stretch of endless tundra.  However, what little we saw of vehicles passing us on the highway.. each and every driver waved and reassured us that people help one another in this neck of woods.  There is truly still a sense of community out there.  People rely on helping each other in order to survive the rough conditions and terrain.

To get to my point, after returning home from my trip out West, I decided to make a valid effort and simple as it sounds.. I began waving.  I know I know it sounds weird and crazy.  I live in town of roughly 15,000 people similar to what I grew up.  (Safe, Quiet, Little Crime and Pretty Homogenize)

However, the difference I have found is that people do NOT wave at one another.  My neighborhood has a good 200 plus homes and I see the same people on my street every day... NO ONE waves (let me give credit to those that do wave)... I will rephrase... 95% of people that live in my neighborhood do not wave.

It is funny because I was explaining to my husband at the end of the week... my attempt to start a WAVE REVOLUTION and how well it turned out.  I told him I made a point to wave at most every person that passed with my vehicle coming in or out of my subdivision as well as along busy two lane roads..  Here are just some of the funny reactions I had to my Wave Revolution attempt.

1.  The first lady that I see about the same time every day ... usually makes eye contact but quickly turns her head, never waves... that day I saw her... I smiled raised my hand and gave her a nice solid wave.  Her reaction was amazing... she squinted her eyes as if she was trying to figure out who I was.. and why I am waving at her... she quickly raised her hand - a flat hand, fingers tightly webbed together type of a wave.  I smiled and drove past her.  I think she was left feeling slightly confused and wondering who I was.

2.  Another attempt that I can laugh about .. is a guy that drives a nice vehicle... looks very important and studious behind the wheel.. I see him a few times a week... seems serious (wears driving gloves, has his hands at 10 and 2).... I was turning a corner and saw him approaching the stop sign... I slowed and reached my hand up high and gave a very energetic wave and smile.  He looked somewhat puzzled and wondering why I was waving at him.  I noticed in a brief glance that the side of his mouth gave me a half smile .. and he lifted his leather gloved finger up and pointed at me.  As if to say... I see you and I this all that I am going to give ya.

3.  I found that Most people didn't wave and many only waved after I waved at them first.  I think I can recount only 5 people that I did or didn't know wave first.  The ones that have an idea of who I am or know that I at least live somewhere close and see them usually every day on the same route... I think .. were on a mission to get to their destination and I can only assume that waving is more of an effort versus apart of their everyday travels.

Now... here is my question.. is this really the type of community/world I live in ... or do people get so caught up in driving with blinders on that waving is the furthest thing from their mind?

It's interesting because where I live .. and with the amount of people that live in my community .. I feel that if EVER my vehicle were to break down or a tire needed to be changed.. I am pretty much on my own until my husband or one of my friends arrive.

DON'T get me wrong... there are many wonderful individuals in my neighborhood and in my community and I believe that it is a great place to live and raise my children.  In addition,  I AM NOT A PERFECT COMMUNITY MEMBER... I drive many days completely in a zoned state of mind!  Thinking about my final destination or dealing with crazy kid drama in the backseat.. and there has been many times that I haven't waved when I should have.  I have drove past people on the interstate struggling to change a tire.  I am COMPLETELY GUILTY!!!  

So my goal in my life is to make sure my children learn how to make the right decisions in life, are happy and do their best to be a "good person"in life.  So I am trying to lead by example and teach them that sense of community is important.  I am starting a wave revolution in my own car.  Just the other day... I shouted to the back seat... "Hey boys... here comes "So and So" wave and say hello".  The Boys loved it!  They waved like crazy and it was fun attempt to get them to be more mindful and aware of the people around them.

I guess ... if the world is going to get worse and that's "JUST the Way it is"... my thought is doesn't have to be and I can at least do something to make it right.  Bring back the sense of community and start a Wave Revolution!!!

BTW... Motorcyclist actually have articles and blogs out there about the Etiquette of waving at other Motorcyclist on the road... this amazing ... why isn't there anything out there about Etiquette of Car Drivers!!

This article is awesome "HOW not to look like a Dork when you wave." Click here

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