A few days ago I stopped at Fred Meyer’s, my favorite grocery store. It was so crowded some of the aisles were impenetrable. People were rushing their carts about everywhere I looked. It took an awful lot of patience to finally get the items I needed.
When I picked out a carton of coconut creamer I noticed a woman I didn’t know, probably in her fifties, walking by and noticed she made it a point to make eye contact. So I did what I usually do in that case. I smiled at her. It wasn’t a great smile at all. It was a simple no-teeth-kind-of smile.
Her face lit up with a cheerful smile as if she had just run into an old friend. I thought she had me confused with someone else. She came over to me and gently touched my arm. “You smiled!” she said.
“Yes, I did,” I said smiling bigger, showing plenty of teeth this time, not quite sure how to take her comment. “Isn’t that a pretty common thing to do?”
“Not at all. Do you know how rarely people smile nowadays. Why is that?” She quickly answered her own question. “ I think it’s because people are too busy to take the time to notice anyone else. They are so caught up in their own lives. You think that’s it?”
“Yes, I believe that’s probably it,” I said.
I understood what she meant. There were plenty of times I looked at fellow shoppers and gave them a smile only to be ignored. Sometimes people are so lost in their own worlds they seldom notice those near them. We share the planet with billions of people yet often feel utterly alone. I keep hearing over and over how in spite of all the many ways to connect via social media, many people feel more alone than ever.
Some people are alone and hurting right under our noses yet no one is willing to take the time to notice. Our own heartache can help us to offer comfort and to understand the depth of someone else’s pain, but how can we ever notice their need for encouragement if we keep our lives, eyes, and smiles to ourselves.
“Thank you for smiling,” she said.
“You’re welcome, I’m glad I did!” I never thought anyone would thank me for smiling at them.
The woman walked away with a spring in her step. I thought about how something so insignificant on my end, something I did rather subconsciously, lit up her face and made her feel noticed and appreciated.
Even the smallest of human kindnesses can reach into another person’s heart. Her reaction encouraged me to make it a point to look at another person’s face more often and offer them a smile, even it is only a small one.
Go ahead, give it a try!
By ~ Elizabeth Yalian 2013-2015 ©http://hiseyeisonthissparrow.com. ♛