About 2 minutes into my walk with Peter this evening I saw an older man walking his dog. Peter ran to meet the dog and I said hello to the owner. Just to make polite small talk I asked how old the dog was and the owner didn't stop talking for 30 minutes. He was extremely nice but it was quite obvious that he's lonely. He talked about his wife, who I later learned passed away from cancer about 10 years ago; his girlfriend, who lives in the next state; and about his twice-daily trips to the dog park. I hardly got a word in edgewise, but ya know, maybe that was for the best. It seems he had a lot he wanted to share and needed someone with whom he could share it...me.
It is so easy to think about "me, me, me" all the time. My schedules, my choices, my opinions, my way. But, there are probably lots of people out there, like this older man, who could really use a "Hi there. How are you?"
Even though my "chat" turned into 30-walkless-minutes in the cold, my heart felt very warm and I know his did too.
I really did want to give Peter some exercise and after I had tried to finish the above conversation for the 10th time, I noticed another neighbor come by. I quickly started a brief follow-up conversation with her; told the older man I really should get going, that it was nice to meet him and I'd talk to him again soon; and then I continued down the street in the same direction as my neighbor. Without taking a breath she turned to me and said, "He is such a nice guy, but I can normally only say 'hello' in passing or I end up there all night."
6 months ago