Yesterday, as I was winding my walk down from around the mountain and traversing the gas station at PCH and Corral Canyon, a woman got out of her car and asked if she could give me a hug. She said she always looked forward to seeing me walking that canyon road as she drove by, and receiving the wave and the smile I always send forth to the passing parade of cars, trucks, bikes and the like. She said it just made her feel so good, and her wanting a hug from me made me feel good.

[I know that most of you who drive Corral Canyon in Malibu refer to me as The Lady On The Mountain, but actually, off the mountain, I’m known as America’s Memory Motivator as I write books on the subject and speak internationally on how to hit the save key on your memory.]

Anyway, in order to keep in shape, I walk up that Canyon Road toward El Nido most days of the week. It’s a tough trek if you’re well over 21 years old and have a bum leg. (That’s why I stop every so often, in case you wondered.) And I couldn’t do it without utilizing the connectivity of strangers. There isn’t a vehicle that passes that I don’t wave at (weights in hand) and send a smile to, and, in an instant, receive a wave and a smile in return that brightens my spirits and lifts me up. Those strangers are like a cheering section that helps me summon up the energy to plod onward.

There is such value in a wave and a smile.

With all the promulgative partisanship raging in our society today, often delivering with it desultory diatribes, sharing a wave and a smile could surely be healing. How many people do you pass on the street or in the market or shopping each day? Do you avert your eyes and just pass each other like zombies? Why is that? Next time you pass a stranger, instead of averting your eyes, why not try a smile? You’ll probably receive a smile in return. That’s connectivity. That one exchanged gesture can change your whole mood (and theirs, too). It creates a wonderful vitality.

The feeling is priceless. It creates—in that connective moment—a feel-good feeling in both the connector and the connectee.

The giver becomes the receiver and vice versa.

If only we could just accept that humankind is made up of all sorts, both physically and mentally.

Some look like you, some don’t. Some think like you, some don’t.

Whether skinnies or fatties, wrinkled or dimpled, brainy or slow, hairy or bald, abled or disabled,

dishes or dogs, Democrats or Republicans... Let loose a smile or a wave, and make a connection.

I promise it won’t hurt a bit.

Thank you all for helping me make it up that canyon.

Hermine Hilton

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