Monday, September 20, 2010

Lessons from Childhood

I flashed back to a moment when I was about ten, tonight.  (Flashing back has happened to me a lot lately, and not without consequences). 

I was standing in line with my mother at a restaurant.  I turned around and saw a woman.  Her brow protruded sternly.  Her posture hunched and defensive.  An disconsolate sigh escaping her lungs and wafting my direction.

I avoided eye contact.  I was shy and in some measure scared to connect to someone with such a hostile demeanor.  I avoided her glances worried whatever emotional malady she experienced in that moment was contagious. 

Finally, I lost the game of visual dodgeball as our eyes connected for a moment.  Paralyzed, instinct took over.  It's been said that a smile is an evolutionary reinvention of the act of bearing one's teeth in threat.  In defense, my lips quivered back from their equator, revealing the smile underneath.  I closed my eyes, worried at what cruel thing she might say. 

Ten year old smile

As I opened my eyes, I saw a completely different person.  Her bronze skin was red with joy rather than the rage I'd perceived.  A smile reflected back at me, and I suppose some weak understanding of "you reap what you sow" or the like was formed.

Today, I saw a woman at the store whose body told a different story.  She trudged through the parking lot as if she'd had a long day.  A hand draped her forehead in frustration and perplexion as she hunted for stray carts in the parking lot. 

Driving past, I slowed and looked right at her flashing an unmistakable and confident grin.  I was there a week ago, I told myself.  Again, the effect was instant and we both came off energized by the thrilling joy of the simplest of human connections.


A smile to those of you I haven't seen or heard from in a while, esp. those of you facing emotional times.  We might not talk often, but I hope to be able to share a real smile very soon. 

Fique firme.  [Stay strong].


Crisco said...

Great thought. It's good to remember the simple human interactions that make life worth living. Um abraço.

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