Saturday, April 16, 2011

Defining your community

I was late and now after several minutes more of searching I found a parking place.  Not a big deal, but as I got out of the car I put on my jacket quickly and wondered how my apology would sound.  Being busy is probably good.  Being insensitive to a prospect's time is definitely not.  I tried several versions of my apology in my head as I jaywalked and dodged traffic.

Half a block from my appointment I saw a face I recognized.  It was a man I had met once or twice and now I was struggling to recall his name.  I planned one of those moving handshakes.  Right hand out, keep up my pace, just a quick hello, rotate as you pass...it did no go as planned.

Patterson Smith reached out to shake my hand and stopped me by stepping into my path.  "George," he said, "your collar is turned up."  He reached up and folded it down patting my shoulder as he did.


"Community" is made of a thousand little moments like this one.  Most times you do not see who is looking out for you.  There is the courtesy of the drivers who let me step out in front of them.  The concern of parents who coaxed their children to one side to let me pass on the sidewalk.  Even the gifts of the homeowners who trimmed their trees and planted their gardens that calmed me on my brisk walk.

If you think that this little story is my new friendship with Patterson Smith you are missing my point.  Yes, I will be nicer to him in the future.  The point of my story is that "community" is about the care we provide for people who are several steps beyond our circle of friends.  In my case, it was care for someone (me) wrapped up in their own little world and not thinking about others.  

I went on to my meeting, which seemed so important as I left my car, but which now felt secondary to the many little meetings I just had as I walked from my car.  I belong to a community.  Somebody, lots of somebodies, are looking out for me.

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