There are people I do live with deeply. Then there are people with whom I often come in contact. We do life together in a different way, not so deeply, yet we have an impact on each other as we interact, catch up, encourage each other, and share tidbits of information or helpfulness.
I had several errands to run before leaving town. My first stop was the city dump, where I take a bag of trash every few weeks. I knew it was a tornado cleanup day with free trash service, but I had planned to pull up to my usual spot, give my purchased disposal ticket, and toss my own bag in the dumpster. The volunteers stationed near the free dumpsters wouldn’t have it. They motioned for me and unloaded for me. It wasn’t much effort, but as they peeked into the back of my vehicle, they joked with me about the giant bag of toilet paper. We interacted for a few minutes, laughed with each other, and I drove away.
I stopped by the post office to mail cards and presents and chatted with one of the regular postal workers. We talked about cookies (since the boxes I ship often have cookies in them), the challenges of working for the postal service around the holidays, and other casual topics. We exchanged some laughs and went on with our day. I stopped by the fire station to pick up a shirt I’d ordered and spent a few minutes catching up with a friend I don’t see often. We shared some family updates, especially about her adorable grandson. My last stop was my favorite fountain drink station. I walked in with a smile on my face that spurred brief but fun conversations with employees and customers.
These aren’t the people I do life with deeply, but they are still an important part of my community. When we close ourselves from the people in our everyday routines because we’re more focused on our to-do list than the people those lists invite into our lives, we miss out. Even though the interactions might be brief and seem insignificant, they create habits of connection for us and others. We miss out, and others miss out on the benefits of connections, smiles, encouragement.
People outside the core circle, people on the fringes of your routines, are still a part of your community. Pay attention and invest in them today.