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One afternoon, we decided to break out of our housebound cocoon and go “mall walking”. We hoped to get a little exercise and to give a restless 1-year-old grandson a little adventure. And so, we ventured out. Our little 31-inch-tall Buddy has been proudly walking for the last month, so he discarded his carriage and went striding along. The wide aisles and the vast distances were amazing to him and just full of possibilities.

He was wide-eyed with the glittering lights, and the soaring ceilings with sunlight streaming in. But most of all, he was absolutely delighted with the new people everywhere. He excitedly walked up to each individual he encountered, stood in their path, looked directly at them with sparkling eyes, flashed a wide smile, waved and said “Hi”.

To our amazement, everyone stopped and talked with him. He made friends with cool teenagers, women loaded down with shopping bags, store employees on their lunch breaks, elderly folks taking their indoor walks, and young mothers pushing strollers. He must have engaged 30 people while striding along. He never considered anyone a stranger, just a person to incorporate into his circle of friends. He had a wonderful time.

This experience was repeated a week later, when his parents took him along on a shopping expedition in a department store. Their time estimate for this errand was far exceeded by all the friendships that were newly initiated by their 1-year-old son. He was gleeful that he had the opportunity to meet and greet so many new people and everyone that he encountered left with a smile.

My wish is that this joy of connecting to others could be a part of each and every day for all individuals and that the openness of a young child could be incorporated into the lives of adults. This could be a world-changing attitude.


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