The smile of an encounter

Some encounters don’t last more than a couple of seconds; the encounter itself that is. The effects may linger on for a long time after.

It’s like a domino effect, but instead of there being falling there’s lifting up…

The other day I went out early. I “needed” new shoes for a wedding where I was the witness for a young man that is very special to me and my little family.

I also wanted to go to the gym still. I needed to evacuate stress. Not sure how a single mom ever gets stressed.

After I would have to pack still, pick up the girls from school and make it to the train station in time. 

I was rushing in the street carrying two bags, my jacket and phone in hand, as I saw a woman struggling to get up a steep sidewalk in her wheelchair.

I rushed towards her to push her up looking totally silly with all that I was carrying. She didn’t care one bit about how I looked though, she cared however that someone looked out for her. She smiled big and thanked me and we both went our way.

Her day changed, and so did mine in just a couple of seconds. I smiled as I carried on with my day.

I was still smiling when I got to the tram stop where I bumped into a tall skinny man with burn scars on his chest. He looked a bit scary, and he also looked intently at me. So I took off my headphones to hear what he was whispering.

“You have a beautiful smile”, he said. “Keep it”, he said, “The world needs smiles”. We talked for the duration of the shared tram trip and we both smiled as he got off the tram and wished each other a beautiful day.

I don’t know where the smiles from both the man and the woman went after the encounter, but mine stuck around all day. I was more relaxed in everything I did that day. I was more open to other encounters, other strangers, other smiles.

I used to not be able to help strangers. I was afraid of failing, of being judged. I was riddled with shame about me as a person. I was not allowed to stand out and didn’t allow myself to stand out either. At any rate if I didn’t help I would feel shame and judgment too, but it was just mine and at least I hadn’t taken the risk of failing. So why would I help?

Thanks to the love and encouragement of the people that surround me and the strangers I’ve met so far something has shifted in me though and I think it must be my silly bone. The one that makes me sing aloud in the street, do a little dance on the metro and generally cares less about how people see me, as long as I make me smile and maybe them.  

It feels so much better to feel free to act according to the heart. To grace people with kindness instead of ignoring their and my need for love. I love the little encounters that make life feel like we’re in a shared effort for happiness… My life definitely feels richer because of them!


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