My next door neighbor died a few days ago. At 40, this kind father of a 2-year old son, devoted husband to a beautiful woman, and non-smoker died of lung cancer.
And I am ashamed.
I am ashamed because I did not know him.
We shared a common wall for six years and I did not know him. He was an important person with an important position first in the state and then on a national level. Is that why I did not know him? Was I too timid to approach such an important man? But he was always friendly. Why didn’t I stop and talk?
I do not know his wife. In fact, I know very few of my neighbors and only on a surface level. I go about my busy life, giving a wave or smile to those passing by my condo. I intend to talk to them. I intend to ask about their health, their families, their interests.
I don’t even know the people I work with well. I utter pleasantries and try to not engage in the gripings; I heat up my lunch in the workroom and then retreat to eat and work at my desk. We do not meet for happy hour or a cup of coffee because of lengthy commutes.
What does it say about me that I talk more with people who live across the country or on the other side of the globe than with the people who live 10 feet from me.