Often when I’m walking down the sidewalk and I see someone approaching from the other direction, I know, ahead of time, they are not going to look at me, not acknowledge a fellow member of the species as they pass. It happened a while ago.
Sometimes I wonder why that is. A “To thine own self be true” thing, the Stones’ “I’m free to do what I want any old time?” The species eternally broken? I look scary? Some other quality reason beyond this little mind of mine? I just don’t know.
The Buddhist nun Pema Chodron encourages us – the species – to have ‘maitri’, which translates to ‘loving-kindness’. For ourselves, she says, and for others. All others. And one of the fundamental vows of Buddhism is to save all sentient beings, which probably includes crows but for this post is aimed at people. Do I offer maitri, am I on the path to saving all sentient beings, when I pass someone on the street and say Hi? Hello? Ola? Hey? What’s happening? Buenos dias? Yo? Am I following the sage advice of my high school pal Donnie Sisson? – “All you can do is all you can do.”
Got me. This saving all sentient beings thing is big stuff. Clearly. I’d like to think my smiling at someone walking by, and saying “Hey”, I’d like to think it’s a drop in that – what? – righteous bucket.
Maybe Fats Domino was offering something akin to a Zen Koan in his song all about walking – “Whatcha gonna do when the well runs dry?” Or Pink Floyd – “Shine on you crazy diamond.” Or Earth, Wind, and Fire – “Child is born with a heart of gold. Way of the world.”
In any case, I get to say hi.