High Fives Taken to the Level of Art at Liberty Park

Do high fives make a difference if they come from complete strangers?

You won’t need to wonder about this if you ever have the pleasure of circumnavigating Salt Lake City’s Liberty Park when master high fiver Brent Walton is putting in his laps.

Walton’s running regime includes high fiving every person he passes, putting smiles on just about everyone’s faces. In fact, he runs out of his way to high five each person, crossing between the inside and outside paths, and letting out his infectious woop, “Yeah!”

I defy the most curmudgeonly among us to not respond when Walton approaches. In fact, it’s pretty fun to watch people melt under his spell.

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It’s amazing! And we all need it. I get happy just thinking about it now as I write this. He’s taken the whole high five thing to the level of art!

Brent manages to carry it all off in a way that’s not annoying or invasive, just wonderfully unusual.

He’s like a breath of fresh air breaking us out of our playlists, thoughts, and conversations for a brief moment–one that feels like equal parts motivational trainer and whimsical, random musical–and I mean that in the best way! His high five campaign is like the best parts of those two things.

My walking partner and I are slow enough that he usually laps us, meaning we get a double dose. I try not to grin the whole time he approaches, because we can hear him well before he reaches us.

More than once, I’ve marveled at how powerful this has been for my day. The best way I can describe it is: encouragement at the most primal level. He doesn’t know anything about me, and he doesn’t need to. We don’t have to talk about anything. He’s just transferring energy without reservation!

That’s pretty cool. In a way, high fives might be most powerful coming from a stranger. There’s something about the wordless yet core understanding exchanged that bears unique momentum.

Eventually, I decided I wanted to know more.

Brent’s Story

So this morning, as I sat in my car thinking through something, there he was! He came trotting up to his car parked nearby, and I reached out about blogging this.

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And he didn’t run away! So he’s brave. It was great to make a new friend and he let me know there is indeed a story behind his doing this. He started doing this one day while waiting for his car to be fixed. He tried it out a few times and got hooked on the positive energy, which he describes as a “buzz”.

It’s also interesting that he sees himself as the biggest recipient, as evidenced by this quote from a description he linked me to on Facebook:

“I purposely chose to run ‘opposite’ the normal flow of foot traffic to increase the number of high fives I would receive. Maximum high fives! Woo!”

I love that. He’s giving so much to people, by putting himself out there and sharing his positive energy.

And yes, I think it’s best to assume that all germs disintegrate in the abundance of that energy. So go ahead, get to Liberty Park one of these mornings and take the high five!

If you haven’t had the pleasure and don’t expect to, I’m sure he’d approve of us considering this your inclusive high five. Way to just be there, dealing with what you’re dealing with, and doing your thing. “Yeah!”

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