Libby James

The dictionary says avoidance is “An action of emptying, vacating or clearing away—an act of withdrawal from something.

I just got home from my second walk during this springlike pandemic day in March. I often walk these days. I’m finding that stepping outside my door, and cruising around the streets in my neighborhood, even if it is only for half an hour or so, is more important than ever for me these days.

This afternoon as I walked, I found myself reflecting on the fact that these days I’ve formed an “avoidance” procedure. When I encounter someone coming my way, I automatically step off the sidewalk to increase the distance between the person I am about to encounter and me.

I hate doing this. I am a friendly kind of person, and I always greet fellow walkers, even if they look as if they might not want to be greeted. Too bad. It’s what I do. And I hardly ever get a negative response.

These days I still wave and say “hello,” but I quite consciously increase the distance between myself and fellow walkers I encounter.  I hate doing this. I do it because I must “do the right thing” for both of us. Mask or no mask, neither of us would want to spread a vicious virus with designs on our health or the health of others. 

How sad it is that “doing the right thing” means backing away rather than coming close enough to have a friendly little visit, or at least to share a greeting of more than a single word.

The weather is warming. There are more and more people out and about. To me, most of these people seem friendlier than they might have been a year or so ago.

I’m betting that they don’t like “social distancing” any more than I do, and they are letting me know by being especially friendly, even though it has to be at a distance.

We should not quit walking! We need to understand that for now, the rules have changed. We are just as friendly as always, but we must find different ways to show it.

May this awkward “avoidance” procedure soon be a thing of the past.

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