At first I relished my new found solitude and the freedom to meander through my days without commitment or obligation. It didn't take long for that solitude to turn into soul searching and eventually sadness and the first signs of depression. Having spent most of my forty year career working as a team player, sharing, encouraging and motivating my coworkers, and thus myself, I am reminded how important interaction with others is for me. If I am to remain emotionally healthy, I need to find a new community to connect with.
Here are some things I have experienced that are helping me color my world and expand my horizons.
The Company of StrangersNot long ago, when taking my dog for her daily walk, I decided to venture to a nearby park rather than the usual trip around the block. While there I encountered an elderly gentleman strolling with his aging Basset Hound. As our dogs sniffed noses, I began chatting with him about his dog and my own 15 year old Basset mix who had recently died. In turn, he shared the intimate story of recently losing his wife. When we turned to go on our separate ways, he called back over his shoulder, "Thanks for stopping." I told him our conversation had made my walk and my day much richer. "You'd be surprised how many people don't understand that simple thing," he replied as he walked away.
Now, whether on a walk in the park, at the deli counter or doing business at the bank, I make an extra effort to not just greet, but to speak to the people I encounter. The rewards are boundless. I have new friends all over town who remember me as the nice lady who takes the time to ask about their day. I always smile when my name is remembered, knowing I've contributed something good to someone else's life as well as mine.