Jump to content
  • entries
    23
  • comments
    119
  • views
    8,563

The Hello Project


Cynus

572 views

I personally believe that the sickness in our society, the one which leads to the upwelling of depression, anxiety, violence, and bigotry, is rooted in the same cause for all symptoms. Terry Pratchett put it bluntly when he said, “Evil begins when you begin to treat people as things.”

 

Others have expressed the same sentiment in different ways. A famous saying, usually attributed to the current Dalai Lama, is “People were created to be loved, and things were created to be used. The reason the world is in chaos is because everything is the opposite.” I’ve pondered this recently, seeking answers for the chaos in my own life, and I’ve come to understand a few things.

 

We are depressed, anxious, violent, and bigoted, because either we are being used, or we are doing the using. It is a problem within society as a whole, and we are all victims of it in one way or another, whether directly or indirectly. We go to our jobs, we go shopping and spending all in the pursuit of money or things; we worship both in our society, while neglecting the people around us. At the same time, our coworkers, friends, family, and everyone we pass on the street is doing the exact same thing, neglecting us in the process.

 

In this age of increasing connectivity, we have never been more disconnected from each other. Humans are tribal people, forming likeminded groups as easily as any other primate, yet we’ve lost that somehow. Even in the groups we are a part of, we rarely connect fully. Instead, we pull out our phones and text those who aren’t there. We email and check facebook(our false tribe) instead of engaging fully in conversations with others.

 

I’m not saying this in order to convince people to give up their phones, or to try and convince people to stop pursuing money or nice things. Those things are tools, and they are great to use for all manner of purposes. What I’m asking for is a perspective change; I’m asking you to look at the world in a different way, and to take a moment to appreciate those around you who may be going through the exact same things you are.

 

A good friend of mine, Greg, shares a lot of my perspectives on this issue. A few weeks ago he posted about the subject, and asking a lot of good questions. One observation he made was that it’s now considered rude to make eye contact with people at the grocery store. Striking up a conversation with a complete stranger is almost a taboo.

 

His remarks sparked an idea for me, and out of that idea The Hello Project was born. Greg and I decided we would pick a grocery store and go there together, meeting random people and complimenting them without any strings attached. We had our first ever event yesterday, and it was a blast. We set out with these adorable business cards which read: “Hello. You’re awesome. Keep it up!” We split up and approached different people, striking up conversations or complimenting them, and then handing them a card and walking away.

 

In the space of an hour, I had meaningful conversations with ten people, learned most of their names and a little about them, and left them with a smile.

 

Marcus is a gay writer who lived in both Anaheim and Boston. He’s really bisexual, but he prefers men over women. He loves cats, but owns a dog instead. His favorite genre is horror.

 

Terry loves the San Francisco 49ers, and his favorite color is orange. He often matches his hats and his shoes, and has a wide collection of both. He was shopping with his wife because of a death in the family, but despite that he had a smile on his face and greets life with optimism.

 

Rebecca believes that everyone is a beautiful mess; we all have problems, but we all have beauty. She has a tattoo of a thorny rose bush on her right bicep, intricate in black and white. Beneath the tattoo is written “A beautiful mess”. She had the tattoo done by a local artist, K. Olsen, whom she collected carefully to make sure the tattoo would be done properly.

 

Liz loves butterflies. She has a shirt and earrings which both depict them and often wears them together. In college she took an etymology course but only caught one butterfly, instead catching mostly beetles and grasshoppers. She came to the store because the weather finally wasn’t too hot.

 

Layton loves San Pellegrino. It’s his guilty pleasure. He’s tried every flavor, but the grapefruit one is his all-time favorite. He’ll give the Aranciata Rosa another try based upon my recommendation. He came to the store just to stock up for the summer.

 

Clayton and his wife (she didn’t offer her name) were at the store preparing to host their grandchildren for a week. They were buying all sorts of candy, sweets, and soda to spoil them. Clayton is nearly blind and walks with a leading cane to help him make sure he doesn’t run into things. He refused my card on the grounds that he couldn’t read it, and he’d forget what it said soon after I gave it to him.

 

Teri and Lillian are mother and daughter who love cutesy things. They fell in love with the summer ceramic platters on display, and we spoke briefly about ceramics in general. Then they asked me what I’d spent the day doing and I told them about the farmer’s market down the road where I’d spent my morning. We spoke at length about that, with them showing increasing interest as the conversation continued. They decided they wanted to check out the market and will do so soon. They loved the cards I handed them so much that they were excited to hand them out to someone else and help them have a good day.

 

I then met a woman who was waiting in the deli for her husband to finish shopping. She was escaping the hot weather, and taking a much needed rest. We didn’t speak much about anything other than how the weather had been changing so dramatically, and though this may seem a cliché topic for strangers to discuss, in that moment it was simply the most important thing. I didn’t get her name, but we were smiling all the same.

 

The last man I met was Sean. He had a long but well-groomed beard, blonde and gray. I complimented him on his beard and then gave him the card, not wanting to hold him up for long. He stopped then, laughed at the card then gave me one in exchange and told me to call him up if I ever needed beard care products and he’d give me a deal. I thanked him then let him go.

 

It was one of the best hours of my life. I loved meeting all of these people. I had a handful of unique moments and unique conversations in such a short time, and I’d given those people a reason to smile. I haven’t had an experience like that in a long time, and it was beyond awesome.

 

I’m positive each of those people is going to remember this moment, at least for a little while, and my hope is that each of them will feel a little less alone in this world. Hopefully, the pressures of society (depression, anxiety, violence, etc.) will fill a little less oppressive this week, and they’ll think of this as a bright spot.

 

It may not be much, but don’t forget to smile at the people around you. Remember that people are to be loved, not used. Remember that in a brief moment, you make a person’s bad day become a little less awful, or make a person’s good day even better. We all have both, and we could all benefit from a little more community.

 

Be well, and don’t forget to say ‘hello’. You are awesome.

 

~ A. Stranger(Cynus)

  • Like 3

7 Comments


Recommended Comments

I think chatting to people in the grocery is a wonderful idea.

 

I often exchange a few words with people I meet out and about in the town and the shops and they usually respond. Bus stops are also good places for a chat. I've got to know some people quite well because we were often at the bus stop at the same time.

 

Putting a smile on your face also helps; people often smile back and that cheers everyone a little bit.

 

If you ever find yourself in Leicestershire let me know so we can cheer up the population together.

  • Like 1
Link to comment

I smile at people and say hello often. It's a nice thing to do. Your idea is wonderful Cy.. loved it... 

  • Like 1
Link to comment

I think chatting to people in the grocery is a wonderful idea.

 

I often exchange a few words with people I meet out and about in the town and the shops and they usually respond. Bus stops are also good places for a chat. I've got to know some people quite well because we were often at the bus stop at the same time.

 

Putting a smile on your face also helps; people often smile back and that cheers everyone a little bit.

 

If you ever find yourself in Leicestershire let me know so we can cheer up the population together.

Will do. :) That sounds lovely, actually. I developed my skills in this regard as a missionary. It's quite refreshing to do it without the churchy bit. Hehe!

Link to comment

I smile at people and say hello often. It's a nice thing to do. Your idea is wonderful Cy.. loved it... 

Good on you. :)

Link to comment

Perhaps a lot depends on where you live. If you live in a big city you might never know your neighbours. If you live, like I do in rural France, you would not walk past someone without saying 'hello', it's rude and the only people that act like that are those from the big cities.

 

Here people are always stopping to talk, it's normal, exactly the same way as it's normal that the kids respect adults, that you shake hands and kiss. Getting to know people here is as easy as talking.

  • Like 1
Link to comment

Perhaps a lot depends on where you live. If you live in a big city you might never know your neighbours. If you live, like I do in rural France, you would not walk past someone without saying 'hello', it's rude and the only people that act like that are those from the big cities. Here people are always stopping to talk, it's normal, exactly the same way as it's normal that the kids respect adults, that you shake hands and kiss. Getting to know people here is as easy as talking.

That's what I love about the countryside. It seems to work that way no matter which rural community you belong to. I lived in Icheon, South Korea (Not to be confused with Incheon) for six months, and that place had a sense of community like nowhere I'd ever lived before or since. Its certainly not a completely lost art.

  • Like 1
Link to comment

Perhaps a lot depends on where you live. If you live in a big city you might never know your neighbours. If you live, like I do in rural France, you would not walk past someone without saying 'hello', it's rude and the only people that act like that are those from the big cities. Here people are always stopping to talk, it's normal, exactly the same way as it's normal that the kids respect adults, that you shake hands and kiss. Getting to know people here is as easy as talking.

That makes sense.

 

I live in Toronto and if I'm/we're out for a walk, we always just say hello to people we pass. I remember standing waiting for a bus, it was winter and there were piles of snow where the plows had been. The bus pulled up and there was an older lady, obviously nervous about trying to get off the bus into the pile of snow safely. I was behind a few people and she stopped and afraid to get off and people just stood looking at her. It pissed me off so I pushed forward and was saying, just give her a hand, geesus. I offered mine and she took it.. I dont understand things like that.. it's a second of your time to help. 

  • Like 3
Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Our Privacy Policy can be found here: Privacy Policy. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue..