It was Sunday afternoon. I enlisted nature to optimise my rest in the short time available. Ironically, nature also likes to do things efficiently. Decided on the river park reserve that I go to lately. It gets crowded at this time of week.

I began to walk. Two or three separate groups of Americans went past. How odd. I got to the trail and a Chinese guy ran past wearing a scarf. I said, “you’ll be hot in that scarf”. He didn’t respond. Moments later two Chinese guys walked past. I said “hi”. No response.

I rounded the bend and saw an attractive girl sitting on a hill over the path ahead. Three of them in fact. I felt a strong drive to make something happen. In the same moment, I quelled that impulse though. All at once I thought “what would I say? I have nothing to say”, “it’s socially unacceptable” and “I’m not ready”. My sense of self shrunk in relation to the environment. My sense of self-confidence eroded, rightfully so.

A man and his wife walked past. I said “nice jacket”. It was a nice jacket. He and his wife smiled wryly.

I walked past the hill with the women and opened my sandwich as I was walking. I decided it would be weird if I didn’t look at them so I looked sideways at them. The one in the middle instantly clammed up, protecting her torso with her arm. I felt a twinge of pain that made me look away. I recently decided that just because they do that doesn’t mean I have to stop looking at them straight away. So after a nanosecond looking away I looked back, trying to gaze, not stare.

To my surprise they all sort of melted at this. It felt right to say “hello”. They cheerfully responded, smiling in their hotness. I felt it would be perfectly natural for me to chat with them at that point. I wasn’t prepared to do that though. I had done enough. I saved face by motioning that I was holding a sandwich and in an unusually Australian fashion said “BLT”. They said “woo!”.

I continued along. Saw a gorgeous dog approaching with its three humans and asked what type of dog it was. “A Labradoodle”. I said some crap, mistakenly saying a few dog breeds I thought it was. The guy was very friendly and open, his daughter was hot and the other one had a good personality and they were all smiling at me responding to my energy favourably.

My mind realised they were joking with a stranger and lost respect for them but then realised it shouldn’t do that because I thought I wanted them to respond that way. I tensed up. The interaction ended personably.

I sat down and ate my sandwich at a nice spot by the river. Very zen. The couple whose jacket I complimented walked past. I felt sorry for them because I had imposed myself and therefore devalued them by saying something. I felt free when they walked past. Smiling and reclining in a place that wasn’t my own apartment. Outside, without anxiety. Demonstrably slightly more capable of surviving and reproducing. At ease.

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