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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Spirit of the Wavin' Man

For me, it began in 1958. We were moving out of the farming settlement on Garcia Bend, headed east past Florin. There was an old men's home, weathered red brick, with a weathered old man on a bench out front. His name was Pete, and he directed traffic at the 4-way stop. When he wasn't directing traffic, he just waved at everybody.

35 years later, I passed the same intersection. The old men's home was long since razed for other development, but there was a younger, muscular man in spandex who jogged along my predawn route to work. He would stop jogging frequently to dance on the sidewalk and wave to morning traffic as part of his routine.

In the early '90s, there was again an old man who sat in morning light upon his own lawn and waved to all the cars passing Carlson Drive. I had not encountered this spirit again until this afternoon. Driving home from the pharmacy with my prescription --and a bottle of Cabernet (I cannot imagine why my health insurance does not cover Cabernet, as I could save 50% or more with a simple copay)-- I found myself stopped at a red light along with 12 other lanes at a 4-way intersection. Usually, I can see when one or another lane goes green and reckon my own signal but they were all stopped. That meant somebody needed to walk across the road. It was this guy:

























He had such a happy smile, and I was in no hurry. He waved to each car, made gentle eye-contact to each driver, I just started to feel better and better. Then I waved back and thought "Wavin' Man, is it you?" I didn't have a camera --probably wouldn't be appropriate anyway-- but I doodled him soon as I got home. Wavin' Man is a spirit that guides, has guided, good souls all my life. How does it assume possession? How does it sustain itself in these contentious times? How does it seem to appear when most needed?
It is an enigma. Amid the myriad distractions of modern times, it appears, it appears.

I could do worse than end up a Wavin' Man.



36 comments:

  1. Geo, we could all do worse than ending up as a Wavin' Man. Here in Cambria there was a dear woman, Granny Swinton, who sat at the end of her lane waving at all who passed by on our rural stretch of Main Street. She was there mostly for the school kids and school busses, but we were all blessed by her enthusiasm.
    I passed her 3 mornings a week, enroute to the tennis courts. She has gone, joining those other Wavin' men and women, but I never pass her lane that I don't recall that wonder act of civility and friendship-a smiling wave. We humans do have a good streak too!

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    1. Dear Tom, thanks for reminding me to say the "spirit of wavin' man" is not gender specific in its corporeal manifestation. Your mention of Granny Swinton is well-received and encouraging. This society needs all the goodwill it can get, from everybody. A smile and wave from anybody on our ways to work go underground and make us kinder through the day.

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  2. I live in a city where most people walk down the street avoiding eye contact and pretending others aren't there. So it's sort of a shock to the system when someone seems warm enough to wave to strangers.

    Wavin' Man is worth noting!

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    1. Indeed, dear Harry. Wavin' man is a palpable aspirant to "Marianne", Lady Liberty, who hovered over the French Revolution. Humanity on foot...humanity in cars --there is much to unify, much to reunite.

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  3. We could all do much worse than to become a waving man/woman. Humanity at its gentlest. And filled with kindness. After a brute of a day I needed this reminder (and perhaps some cabernet (or merlot). Thank you.

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    1. Oh E.C., there's a great need of friendly gestures in this crazy world. We get antagonistic news from governments whose massive populations are nobody's enemy. But the waving ones have chosen the gesture of truth. We're all human and want peace --and good vintners-- and, if we are kind enough, we'll obtain.

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  4. What a delightful post, Geo. In this chaotic, frenzied, and often depressing world Wavin' Men are extremely hard to find. We need a lot more of them.

    Your doodle is charming.
    And, by the way - I would have mugged you to get that Cabernet (I'm definitely wine depleted here in this dry Tennessee county).

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    1. Thanks, Jon. Wavin' men (and women) appear by pleasant surprise. They manifest themselves in peaceful defiance of N. Korean tyrants who rule by tantrum and threaten nuclear war with barely 2 months oil reserve --like their only ally, China, would approve (unlikely) disgrace in the world market. As for Tennessee, I hope they allow the best imported beers in the world, Guinness Extra Stout and Corona from Mexico --one of the cheerfullest brews in the world. Earth is probably the best planet in the world and I wish more governments could agree on that.

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  5. It all seems to have something to do with how closely people live to each other. I can echo the comment of Harry Hamid. I lived in a town in England where nobody looked into the face of another human being. When I did so I felt I was looking into the eyes of walking dead.
    Here in more rural France, this less the case. I found a similar open-facedness in New Zealand. Long live the wavers!

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    1. The Wavin' spirit, like tide and time, is an effect of tremendous operations in the universe. It may not make its channelers live longer, but they seem to have more life in them than be contained in one lifetime.

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  6. I'm more of a smiler than a waver, but I know that spirit all right.
    Sorry for the shortcomings of your health insurance. Red is my favourite colour of wine, and definitely the most medicinal.
    I'm waving! :-) And smiling xx

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    1. I can feel that smile in your writing, Lisa, and your wave in the aeronautical convolutions of your dragon, who herded rain here last night. I raise my glass.

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    2. So that's where dragon went! I raise my glass also :-)

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  7. Today I'll strive to be more wavy. Shouldn't be hard. I'm rarely straight. Your story reminds me of the time my cousin was driving down a road and from a distance she spotted a guy who appeared to be wearing robes. As she got closer, she could see that he clearly was dressed in robes and what's more, he looked like the picture of Jesus that we are all familiar with, in which he plays a really handsome, long-haired white guy. (sometimes I wonder what he really looked like). She was confused, casting about in her mind for the reason a guy might be on the side of the road dressed like Jesus since it's not Halloween, and as she got closer he caught her eye, and winked. Maybe she needed a winkin' man that day.

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    1. Chicken, I love this account of Winkin' Man! Have always imagined Jesus as a winker/nodder, sort of like Red Green ("Keep your stick on the ice; I'm pullin'for ya!)--a gesture of approval, understanding and confidence, casual encounter. Why should the 2nd advent be an earth-shaking hierophany? Why not a simple exchange of expressions. Christianity and Islam predict a 2nd Coming (or Parousia) of Christ, which can be an opening of the heavens to most, but considering Jesus's methods, far more likely to be a guy walking along a road.

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    2. Thanks Geo. I like that idea, too. I wonder if Jesus will fare any better the second time around. I hope so.

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    3. May sound presumptuous (I often am) but I bet Jesus hopes so too.

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  8. I have watched some stories of waving people on TV and it always makes me smile. It is usually the last story of the news program, after they have told you of all the gore and horror that they have decided is important for you to know. It is wonderful to see people enjoying themselves and making it a point to share their joy of life with others. Last week I saw a story of a man on a tarmac directing a plane while dancing. Fun to watch, but that could have ended badly.

    You can’t see me, Geo, but I am waving to you now.

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    1. And I am waving back, Arleen, but don't fret, I'm not on tarmac. Can I see you waving? I do have an imagination and today it serves me well.

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  9. Marvelous story. What a comfort to know that the waving man is there to brighten your day.

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    1. Yesterday was my first encounter with him, Emma. But I hope to see him again --and more like him. Hope you do too (then it will be a movement!).

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  10. Somehow I feel you are already a wavin' man, Geo., just as a chrysalid is already a butterfly. Just a bit more time and there you'll be.

    I love your drawing, and this post.

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    1. Thanks, Jenny. When we emerge from chrysalis and spread our wings, waving is unavoidable.

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  11. I think you could easily be a wavin' man, Geo! We recently spent a month in Victoria, British Columbia. Our hotel was next to a residence for independent seniors. Almost every afternoon two or three elderly residents would sit in front of a big picture window overlooking Douglas Street and wave at everyone passing by. They had huge smiles and waved enthusiastically, sometimes even holding up a big sign saying, "Wave at us!" They never failed to raise my spirits!

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    1. Louise, as I age and consider that I know more people in the past than made it to the present, the warmth of polite recognition --nods, smiles, twinkles and waves-- become more and more important to me. I appreciate greetings and acknowledgements in public places, handshakes and hugs from other survivors. I value little interactions that used to be common, but have got rarer over the years. They raise my spirit too, and if I am lucky, someday I will help hold the sign on some equivalent of Douglas Street. (p.s. Is it true that every other male in Canada is named "Douglas"?)

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    2. I'm with you, Geo! I appreciate "the warmth of polite recognition" as I grow older. For a couple of decades now I've engaged in a smile campaign by flashing big smiles at all sorts of people. It started with a visit to the Pikes Place Fish Market in Seattle. The fish mongers operated with a "Make Their Day" philosophy. They'd throw fish through the air to each other and engage with passersby with smiles and uplifting conversation. I was immediately inspired! I don't go around throwing fish, but I certainly smile. It's such an easy thing to do, and it can literally change someone's day. Even mine! If I'm down, I still flash smiles, and it lifts me up too.

      I've known a lot of Douglases in my life in Canada. Just out of curiosity, I googled the most popular name for boys in Canada. Liam was the most popular name for baby boys in 2015 and 2016. Douglas didn't make the top 100! Today, that is.

      Douglas Street is named after Sir James Douglas who is considered "The Father of British Columbia." He started as a fur trader for the North West Company and then the Hudson's Bay Company. He went on to become the Governor of the Colony of Vancouver Island and then the first governor of the Colony of British Columbia.

      Everywhere you walk in the Inner Harbour area of Victoria, you walk on history. I particularly like to sit on the rocks near where the old Hudson's Bay Company fort was and imagine the majestic sailing vessels moored and off-loading supplies from around the world and on-loading rich furs and gold from the newly discovered goldfields. All that remains are three mooring rings, two bastions, and a palisade. I've only seen the rings and one bastion. I'll have to poke around and ask more questions next year.

      Have a good one! I fear this is another very long comment! LOL

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    3. I delight in and learn from comments, Louise, and impose no limits to their length.

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  12. I love your drawing and how you are inspired by those you do not even know but who touch your life with such a simple gesture.

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    1. Kind Sage, the world would be a sadder sphere if people didn't reach out, if only to wave hello.

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  13. Heya just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let
    you know a few of the pictures aren't loading correctly.
    I'm not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I've tried it
    in two different browsers and both show the same outcome.

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    1. Only one pic on this post, Anon. Sorry you're having difficulties. I confess myself baffled.

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    2. Anon., I just tried signing out and clearing cookies etc., then Googling "trainride of the enigmas" and the text and visual came through ok. Best wishes and good luck.

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  14. I must confess to being infected with the "smile at strangers" disease, a condition with which I've been afflicted for as long as I can remember, along with its more serious ramifications... actually talking to them. It used to horrify my parents when I was a child and embarrass the fire out of our kids when they were growing up, but I am very pleased to report that all of my grown children are now afflicted with the disease, too. It's amazing how much difference a smile and a kind word can make, because I think people are hungry for conversation and simple human connection. So many people are isolated within their own bubble of existence that they may not even realize how much they need human interaction. That smile, that wave, or that brief exchange remind us that we aren't alone. I think you are definitely a waving man, dude.

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    1. You may be right, dear Susan. Since I retired in 2009, I haven't had thousands of students and staff, or early-morning walkers, recycle-collectors, politic-discussers, Zen monks and other park regulars to greet and meet at sun-up. Certainly Blogger serves as a connective seance, and running errands satisfies my need to smile at children, practice courtesy and wink at fellow geezers. But omigosh you're right, when traffic affords rare courtesies and we yield rights of way or some one stops to let me cross, this dude becomes a wavin' man.

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  15. There's a guy who walks down the street here in Prescott Valley and waves to every passing car. I'm sure most people think he's a nutcase but I always wave back to him.

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    1. Bruce, if your state ever decides to create an office for Lieutenant Governor, I recommend Yavapai County and all of Arizona write in Wavin' Man. We need a gentle inspiring spirit in all levels of government.

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