lately i have found myself accidentally smiling at people. i’ll be walking down the street, lost in my own reverie, and when i look up my automatic reaction is to smile at the person walking past. on these occasions my response surprises even me, as the smile seems to bypass any mental thought process…and anything that bypasses my hyperactive mind is quite the feat indeed.
however, even more pleasantly surprising is the reaction i get. most of the time…people actually smile back!
whenever this seemingly small exchange occurs, my heart smiles too. it never fails to amaze me how such a fleeting interaction between two complete strangers can so genuinely and swiftly energize my spirit.
so i ask myself: why don’t i do it more often?
some people have a naturally sunny disposition and walking around with a smile is usual for them. i, however, lean toward the more pensive, and having a big grin plastered across my face seems not only unnatural but kind of silly. also, i live in a city where people are generally regarded as reserved and (especially this time of year) tend to huddle to themselves. this does make the whole smiling-at-people thing a little more challenging.
but these are cop-outs and i know it and there’s more to it than that.
i sometimes go about my day in an almost-defensive mode, seizing up those around me, on the lookout for any perceived danger. most of the time this is unconscious, and a means of protecting my heart. but protecting it from what, exactly? what am i afraid will happen if i let the armour down?
am i scared that if i smile at someone, they won’t smile back? is the possibly of rejection so painful that i (we) shut myself off from anything that could trigger it? i won’t go into old rejection wounds here; i’m kinda done with that. suffice it to say that this MO is really just my lizard brain on autopilot, and it’s time for me to consciously take the wheel (or whatever it is that pilots use to fly). it’s time to actively create the society i want to live in. even if others don’t seem to be on the same page.
dramatic as it sounds…a smile from a stranger, if only for a second, gives me hope in my fellow neighbor, and thus in humanity. and seconds add up.
i accidentally smiled at someone today. and i made it an experiment to smile at whoever passed me by after that. guess what? it was amazing. pretty much everyone smiled back! i even got a couple of hello’s!
just thinking about it puts a silly grin on my face.