My husband travels quite often for work. When he leaves, it's business as usual for me- I run errands, take Buckles (our Siberian husky) for a run, catch up on household joys like laundry and vacuuming the almost comical amount of husky hair he sheds, etc. Some days, though, besides running the dog, I don't have errands to do that require leaving the house which means I don't have any human interaction. Yeah, I'll be on twitter, or I'll text with friends, but it's not quite the same as a real, live, in-person convo.
It's not a big deal to me, usually, as I genuinely like being alone. I do my yoga practice, and then I'll read, or turn on the music and clean while belting out songs karaoke-style at the top of my lungs. (Bet the neighbors love that!) Other perks of my husband being out of town? I can turn the heat up way past our agreed upon level (he's always hot and I'm always cold), and leave the place a mess while I bounce from one activity to another (he is a clean freak and I am, how shall we put this...relaxed about cleaning up).
But some days the loneliness creeps in and once I get one little negative thought in my head, it's easy to get swept up in it. That happened yesterday.
It's not very "yogic", or whatever, but contrary to the stereotype, I don't sit around chanting OMs and balancing my chakras. I mean, don't get me wrong, I do meditate daily and have a strong liking for any song with a sitar, but I certainly have days where I just don't feel as "at peace" as you'd assume a yogi would be. Anyway.
So I was irritable. I was exhausted and didn't feel like running with Buckles, who, as if instinctively, decided he'd be irritable too and pull me like we were racing the Iditarod. My ears were cold (does that happen to you when you run?) and I had forgotten the headband thing I wear over my ears, and my jaw started to ache (side effect of the cold ear thing, so weird!).
Each person I passed looked down at the ground. Huh, I thought. We're all having a sh!t day, maybe.
And then I saw "my guy". My guy is this older man- older than my dad but too young to be my grandfather. He has graying hair and a mustache. I see him out for a walk nearly every time I'm out with Buckles. One of the first weeks being here in Germany, he stopped me and gave me the newspaper and pointed to the front page where there was a picture of my husband and our dog. "Husky!" He had exclaimed with a smile. It was such a nice thing to do- to give me the paper and just kind of make a connection. Ever since then, I've referred to him as 'my guy' when I talk about him to my family or friends. We always nod or say hello when we pass one another, but since my German isn't very good, and it doesn't seem like he speaks much English, our exchanges end there.
Yesterday, as my guy was approaching, Buckles pooped. It's like he's got this uncanny timing. I didn't have a poop bag with me, which was a given considering the way my day was going, so I just stood there awkwardly as he finished. As my guy walked by, I gave a slight nod, and he said hello with a big smile, and pointed to his jacket logo, which was the team my husband plays for. He gave me the thumbs up sign and a big smile, and it broke my mood. I smiled back and said, "Yeah!" and did a fist pump, because I couldn't think of a better universal "Go team!" gesture, and we continued on our separate ways.
The fact that he went out of his way to say hello and try to communicate even though there's a language barrier just meant so much to me. He took a chance, however small, and it turned my whole day around.
Now I know that if we're thinking about this in terms of yogic philosophy, I probably shouldn't care one way or another that my guy said hello. I should have just chosen to be happy regardless, and turned my day around on my own because happiness doesn't, or at least according to yogic philosophy, shouldn't depend on anyone else but yourself.
.....but doesn't it feel nice when someone does something small like that? It reminded me of this poem I had once heard that starts off "Smiling is infectious, you catch it like the flu. When someone started smiling at me today, I started smiling too."