Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Just Say Hello

Modes of transportation I enjoy:
bike, horse, train, car, boat (small)

Modes of transportation I eschew:
plane, boat (large)

The plane thing happened years ago, long before 9/11, although that became an apposite reason and one to which I hold on like a tree in a hurricane.  And you know what really irks me? The people who say things like "planes are the safest way to travel."  Or "well the data proves that you're more likely to be killed crossing the street."  

This is what I say to those people: Up Your Bum.  Because it's not the fear of death that plagues me when any thought of an airplane enters my head, it's the fear of dying without having done something of worth on this little planet of ours.  I am well aware that the Buddhists allow that I will have other lives and other chances, but I don't really want to be in a plane crash where the papers the next day list me as a number ("Plane crashes across the Atlantic; Robbie Williams and 57 others die").  That would be a failure, in my humble opinion.

One of the things the New York Times did so well in the aftermath of September 11 is the marvelous obituaries -- vivid, personal, lively -- written about each and every person who perished, often with a photo.  In the photos the people were usually smiling. Funny how we do that when we see a camera, that urge to smile.  No-one looked sad.  We never think, this is the last picture that will be taken of me.  Death, as I'm fond of saying, always bites you in the arse.

So if there were a way to predict one's death (I've often imagined what life would be like if when walking down the street, an LED screen would light up on one's forehead with one's thoughts lit up in a glorious technicolor Palatino:  'Phwoar, he's a bit of all right.'  And 'Oh Dear Me, I should've peed before I left the house.'  And 'Bacon, bleach, loaf of bread, clothes pegs.'  And 'The square on the hypotenuse and what what was the next bit?') ...but if we knew. If there was a way of knowing, wouldn't we spend our every last moment in this world being just a little bit nicer to everyone?

Just say hello.  Try it for a day.  Everyone you meet.  People you're driving next to.  Look over at them and smile.  Wave when people let you into traffic. Talk to that homeless guy you always pass on the corner of Crescent Heights & Sunset Blvd.  Ask the cashier how her day's going.  Call your brother.  Grin at the ferocious lady with the whippets in the dog park.  Share your Kit-Kat.

After all, dogs do it. 


Tania Kindersley said...

Love this. I too hate the aeroplanes and yearn to go everywhere by boat. Also, I really do wave madly at people who let me into traffic and sometimes honk my horn and flash my hazard lights too. (Flipside: some unedifying G Brown type swearing when people meanly refuse to let me in. But then, we can't all be perfect.)

Stevey said...

In the interests of being a little bit nicer, why not try the Lent Experiment?
It was started by some friends of mine - there were five people in the group for Lent 2008 - and has now reached nearly 22,000 people who want to do something positive for Lent instead of giving something up. It was even featured on Coventry BBC radio this morning!

Miss Whistle said...

@Tania My friend Wendy waves and smiles when people don't let her in, rendering them speechless with guilt.

@Stevey I think that's a wonderful idea and actually Lent was what started making me think about this stuff (for some reason, I love the austerity of the Ash Wednesday service)

Thanks so much for your comments.

Miss W xx