I believe in “hello.” The extraordinary power of that simple word of welcome is something that continues to amaze me long after it has left my lips or entered my ears.
The power of this greeting comes not from the person who speaks it or the word itself. Instead, its power is derived from the feelings it evokes; the feeling of welcome, of acceptance, of love.
As a typical teenager, all these feelings were things I lacked as I boarded a plane with 41 of my classmates to a far off city I did not know, or care to know. However, when I got off another plane in another city, I felt as if things had changed, as if I had changed, as if my world had changed. It all started with a simple invitation, “come sit with us,” and ended with a heated game of cards and conversation. What happened in between this beginning and end is irrelevant; it is the beginning which holds the power and focus of my story.
I was the only person from my High School going on that trip; a lonely, and at the time, devastating occurrence. Of course, I knew some people who were going on the trip; however, I wouldn’t have called them friends, to me they were more like acquaintances. I boarded the plane, contemplating my few seating options. I walked down the aisle looking for an open seat next to someone I knew. I must have had a look of despair on my face because one of the other kids on the trip looked at me and asked if I wanted to sit with him and his friends. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity of getting to know some people on the trip, besides they were the kids I regarded as “cool.” I would have to be stupid to refuse a request like that. Over the course of the next several hours I became quick friends with that group, and the following week abroad only seemed to strengthen that friendship.
All of this took place over one year ago, and now I somehow find myself in the position of welcoming others; telling them “hello,” and asking them if they would like to sit with us. It’s strange how things like that have a way of coming full circle.
Having been on the both sides of the equation, I realize now how hard it is to ask the new kid to sit with you at lunch, or to ask him to hang out with your friends after school, but I also understand the vast impact a simple “hello” can have on a life. No longer do I consider those people I met on the plane merely acquaintances, but instead they are friends, and it’s all because of the simple word “hello.”
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