The Mailman

The Mailman

On my daily run, I  usually follow a regular route. Leaving my apartment building, I wind through a neighborhood until I come to a street that leads down to a path that takes me along the St. Vrain River. The route I take through the neighborhood is always a little different, although I do tend to run on the same streets every day. Most runners I know need variation in their runs to break up the monotony, while I seem to settle in comfortably along a familiar route. Running for me is a meditation and an act of grace.

As I wind through the neighborhood, I often see the mailman delivering mail to the homes along his route. He always smiles and waves to me, and I smile and wave to him in return. I find the frequency of these encounters somewhat remarkable since I never go out for my run at the same time or follow the exact route from one day to the next. I am rather mystified by it and ponder how it is that we so often come across one another? I am also left to ponder who benefits more from these encounters, the mailman or me? Since we share equally in these encounters, I must conclude that we also share equally in the pleasure each of us derives from these encounters.

Life consists of a series of seemingly random occurrences that when strung together, like popcorn on a string, make up our memories. One day I will stop to talk to the mailman. He’ll no doubt ask me how I find the energy to run every day and I’ll say to him that it requires little energy from me because it is more a way for me to escape into my imagination. I will tell him that his effort is quite a different matter since he must follow the same route day in and day out. This effort must require a lot of mental toughness. Not at all, he’ll say. “Like you, I find a way to let random thoughts overrun my mind, and therefore never get bored.”

“Well, you always have a smile and wave for me, and I am grateful,” I will say to him.

“I am equally grateful for the respite that comes from seeing you,” he’ll say. “As much as you run, you must race.”

“I do enjoy competing in marathons. I usually sign up for two or three a year, mixing in a half-marathon,” I’ll say.

“That must take quite an effort,” he’ll say.

“Not really. Or I guess I should say that it does take quite an effort during the marathon, but afterward, it doesn’t seem like such a big deal. I’m a little sore but eager to begin training again for the next one.”

“Do you have any races coming up?” he’ll ask.

“Not until June,” I’ll say. “I’ll begin training in earnest sometime in January.”

“Well, it has been a pleasure talking with you. I see you out running so much that I have wondered about you,” he’ll say.

“Thank you,” I’ll say. “It has been a pleasure, and I always look forward to your smile and wave. It is the highlight of my day.”

We’ll shake hands and say goodbye to each other and he’ll go his way and I’ll go my way and each of us will be a little sad that we didn’t have more time to visit. No doubt we could have spent the rest of the day talking, two strangers who have smiled and waved to each other on countless occasions but who until now have never had the chance to stop and talk to one another. A random occurrence, one of many by which we string our lives together.


  1. How beautiful is this! You talk of running as being a form of mediation and grace. (I loved that.) I felt that same awareness and that same gratitude in reading your words. Not only could I feel and picture myself on that run with you, but I walked away…well, ran away 🙂 wanting to find the extraordinary in the ordinary—in the people me meet and in the magic and grace that these encounters can bring if we but only open our eyes and hearts to them. Thank you, David, for inspiring us with your stories. ♥️

  2. Thank you, Mitra. What a beautiful comment on my post. I am deeply touched by your heartfelt words. It is true that for so many of us, running is a meditation and grace, a way to show gratitude in living. And the people we meet along the way give our lives their meaning. It is our kindness that conjoins us to everyone we meet on our paths through life.

    • Thank you, David. I am reading, “A Christmas Carol,” today and I thought of your reply and the hope your story brings as I read a few of Dicken’s words just now. “Any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness…Why did I walk through crowds of fellow beings with my eyes turned down.”

      • Thank you, Mitra, for this wonderful response, and I agree wholeheartedly with Dickens that we too often walk through life with our eyes turned down, when we should make every effort to see and touch in even the smallest of ways our fellow travelers. In the vastness of the universe, it is a miracle that we share such a small space with our neighbors.

  3. Dear David, this brought tears to my eyes, and as I pondered why, I realized that (for me) it is so intensely intimate, so pristinely simple and human, such a beautiful and (for me) deeply moving moment, even tender. It feels like no matter what you might or might not say on the surface, you and the mailman have an unspoken soul bond that transcends everything else. I just love your imagined exchange with him. I do realize it might sound odd, but just reading the simple little conversation felt like a tiny moment of stillness in all the storms of life. I teared up because I think it is the very soul of our humanity that you express. I could have kept reading because the whole story made me want to be part of it all, the mailman, you, and that moment of communion. You are such a beautiful soul, dear friend. So much love to you. I love feeling your soul in these stories filled with compassion and wisdom. Love. Roby. — PS: I am off to run my small 4.5 miles. But, I am still proud of them, as it’s been a steady process after breaking my hip 4 years ago. I tell myself, one step at a time. Huge hugs, dear soul. Roby

  4. Dear Roby, thank you for your beautiful comment. Your deep insights and kind words touch me in a very special way. As you know, writing can be a lonely occupation, filled with dread that what we are trying to say will be misunderstood. Writers should be bold and fearless, but I believe the opposite to be true since most writers see the world in an intimate way and want very much to share this intimacy. Writers want very much to be a part of the world, want to feel the closeness, want to believe that the world is a safe and wonderful place in which to live. This requires that a writer lay open his or her soul and this can seem like a frightening proposition. When on those rare occasions a writer feels seen and understood, it elevates his or her spirit to extreme heights. I am so thankful for your comment, so deeply moved by what you said, that you thought my story expressed “the very soul of humanity.” Thank you from the bottom of my heart, dear Roby. And I am happy to hear that you are running and, I’m sure, finding in each step a meditation and a communion with nature. Love and hugs to you, my dear friend.

    • Dearest David, with a soul like yours, I cannot imagine you writing anything but ‘the intimate.’ Every single story (and comment to me, or others) that you write is Pure Soul…all the way. Dear Friend, ARE Soul, in all of your actions, thoughts, and feelings. It is why your writing truly expresses “the very soul of humanity.” I LOVE that about you. It makes you real, it makes Life real, and opens the way for everyone blessed to know and experience you.

      I think somewhere in my book, Naked in Eden, I write a line that goes something like this. As I grew to know know my own soul, I grew to know the Soul of the World. Dear David, your soulfulness is what makes you so very special as a man, and human being….you are not afraid of the two most important things that allow us to love, really love, and they are true intimacy (vulnerability) and both your own Soul and the Soul of the World. You are a stunning Way Leader, always lighting the way through your beautiful, vulnerable, and Soulful expressions. Much love and gratitude for your presence in my life….in Life itself. Roby

      • Ahhh, thank you, dear Roby. What a generous and beautiful comment. I am so humbled by your inspiring words, so much so that I am left rather speechless. I did want to reply, however, because your generosity and heartfelt expressions of love cannot go without a response on my part, if in no other way than to say thank you. The quote from your book, Naked in Eden, says it better than I ever could: “As I grew to know my own soul, I grew to know the Soul of the World.” It cannot be said any better. I too send my love and gratitude for your presence in my life, dear Roby.

  5. Thank you so much, David!
    I love this beautiful story. I feel it deeply as it blesses me with your profound insights, and fills my heart with meaningful connection. You have gifted us passage into your insightful vision of a simple moment of mirrored recognition, when two people connect as One, within the pure simplicity of an ordinary day interwoven with the mysteries of life, enhanced by a simple greeting in the sharing of a kind smile and a gentle wave of a hand, creating generously sacred moments in time…even within seemingly disparate timeframes and criss-crossing spaces.

    I am reminded of a perfect skipping stone creating rhythmic waves and ripples traveling an unknowable sea on a far reaching spiritual journey. The waves and ripples continually move past brightly lit lighthouses, and mesmerizing campfires, gathering beams of firelight, and carrying the life-giving rays of the sun. Appearing as brilliant diamonds sparkling upon the waves of the sea like bright white seagulls dancing in the tides of foreign shores.
    A smile and the wave of a hand can move our hearts in similar ways, rippling outward in grace, peace, and harmony…heart to heart, and home to home.

    I am newly inspired and deeply moved by your invitation to smile more often through sharing the astonishing love and guiding light always gathering, igniting, and shining on little altars everywhere…sending peaceful greetings welling up from within the Sound of Silence residing in our hearts as the noise of the world swirls around us.
    Your beautifully simple story carries a profound depth of recognition and acknowledgement that blesses us deeply with Love and a powerful sense of peaceful hope for all life in this world and beyond. This esoteric wisdom you deeply share interconnects our inner Being with all Beings, and sings out a (W)holy (Life is amazing/Glory to God) Hallelujah!

    And these brief, holy meetings carry an invisible balm of Grace slowing things down just enough to begin bringing a deep sense of personal and universal calm into the chaos and absurdity of life, and return us all back to the grace of inter-dependent generous connection with one another and the blessings of a Higher Power in deep energetic recognition, profound respect, and sustained peace.

    If the simple whisper-like movement of a butterfly’s wings can be felt on the other side of the world, I am certain that the gentle, sacred connections within the warmhearted sharing of a kind smile and the gentle wave of a hand, can profoundly touch the hearts of a multitude of people across our world and lead us all into consciously and compassionately holding a new and abiding “Peace on Earth” bringing about “Tidings of Comfort and Joy” in all the small ways inhabiting our ordinary days.

    Thank you, David, for sharing this profoundly beautiful gift of wisdom, grace, and inspiration! These beautiful moving words of love and light will travel to unknown places and find the warmth of home in the hearts of all they touch.
    Happy Holidays, David!
    Many blessings! So much love!

    • Dearest Virginia, you are sooo BEAUTIFUL. I love what you wrote about the simple whisper-like movement of a butterfly’s wings being felt on the other side of the world. Oh my word! That is exquisite. It sprung instant tears to my eyes. It comes from a highly attuned and aware gentle sou…You. I love you, dear one. Roby

  6. Thank you, Virginia. I am deeply touched by your profound and inspirational comment. I was impressed by your metaphor of the skipping stone creating “ripples traveling an unknowable sea on a far-reaching journey…A smile and the wave of a hand can move our hearts in similar ways, rippling outward in grace, peace, and harmony…heart to heart, and home to home.”

    “Even the smallest act of caring for another person is like a drop of water. It will make ripples throughout the entire pond.” – Bryan Matteo

    Happy Holidays to you, Virginia. I send my blessings and love.

Leave a Reply