I was in a foul mood. I confess there was a certain reveling in the weight of the sufferings my dark vortex was conjuring. Oh, I was not to be trifled with! There were obstacles everywhere. I was clumsy and forgetful. It was hot and humid. Would nothing come to relieve me?
Thankfully, I was not so entirely possessed by my frame of mind that I failed, on my way to work, to notice a solitary older woman cycling up my street wearing the most radiant of smiles. From under the brim of her great, big floppy hat it shone, a peaceful kind of delight. It called to me—without her knowing it—to remember where I was. I, too, was under the deep, sweet smelling shade of the trees on the river bank, now in full leaf. “Well, yes,” I thought to myself, “who could not smile going along this road on such a lovely summer’s day?”
The second one erupted on the face of a skinny, suntanned postie crossing a traffic intersection on his iconic red motorbike, when I was stopped at the lights. His great grin looked like memory of a good laugh, so full of life it was. Blazing sun as I waited for the lights to change? Oh, I hardly noticed!
The secret smiles lit my way for a spell; even more so since they were not directed at me, did not ask me to respond. They did me good. And each good deed done tips the balance of the whole world toward the good. It turns out that this is true even when you are not purposefully doing good. Perhaps the absence of effort makes it all the sweeter?
Walking back home I heard a passel of kids bellowing their after-school goodbyes at the canal as I returned from my errands. Then I heard a child’s voice singing a song that ran up and down the scales, the sound bouncing off the surrounding walls. What a pure, unaffected voice! I stood hidden on the stairs hoping to catch a glimpse of this little piece of heaven as it was undoubtedly homeward bound. A tiny, brown berry of a boy walked by, with his black rucksack strapped on, his umbrella tap-tap-tapping, scraping and dragging, as he sang.
Thanks to him, I feel like I’ve now found one of those secret smiles!
(May it fly to those most in need of this gentleness.)