Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Comfort in a Stranger's Smile

Blinking cursors waiting for attention. Nodding heads fighting sleep. Restless feet seeking adventure. Aimless wandering to not really anywhere.

Another day ended; a new one will soon begin. Yet the day's tiresome, mundane routine has exhausted the life out of the girl. She walked to nowhere, wanted nothing, and had no one. So she went home.

The crowd was packed. Apparently, there was a celebrity. She didn't care. What happened to me? she wondered. In a time long past, she would have been the first to have waited, the first to have showed up to that gathering. Now she walked alone to the authorized and designated PUV stop.

Seriously, this jeep can fit five more people? Her musings might have deafened her if the driver's voice was only a bit softer. She scooted to the side and let someone else sit properly on the jeep's too-narrow seat.

"You can make yourself comfortable. I'll be getting off soon," she told the girl who had to walk with careful dexterity around the feet of other passengers in the crowded hull of the jeep.

"Thank you," the new passenger said, making sure to still leave space for the girl to sit.

She smiled. They both smiled.

The girl's musings turned soft. She could feel the italics slowly lean back and revert to roman. The smile told of something other than random thankfulness. Somehow it said, "We both had a long day. We deserve to smile about surviving it."

The girl got home.


Sometimes in life, a smile is all we need to get through the day. As tiresome as the day may have been, a smile, even from a random stranger can change things. They say that you're never fully dressed without a smile. They say that the best accessory you can wear is a smile. I think there's some truth to it.

Once upon a time, a thought occurred to this thinking processor we shall call my brain. What if we just randomly smile at people we pass by the street? What if we walk around smiling at people? Sure, the first thing that went through your mind is that people will think we're crazy. People will think there's something wrong with us. People will think that we're not all there, if you know what I mean. People will think. Well, we are not the people. We are the ones smiling. Besides, when we've passed the people by, we don't need to see their reaction.

On a certain trip to a certain place one certain time ago, we were in a convoy. There were a couple of cars with my relatives inside as we made our way to that certain someplace. It was a long trip, and children, like me, will get bored eventually. Someone had the great idea of waving to random people we passed by on the road. Like celebrities. Or politicians. So what's there to lose? We waved around. We waved at kids. We waved at strangers going about their daily lives. We waved and some even waved back. But the experiment (rather the boredom buster) has given us an even better result. The cars behind us saw it. They saw the smile on the people's faces. They saw the confusion then the amusement in their reactions. Of course they knew we weren't really celebrities traveling by random cars in a near-middle-of-nowhere road, but they enjoyed the idea of people waving at them. A social experiment, we might call it. I don't know.

Maybe as humans we enjoy smiles. We enjoy random events that don't really make sense but somehow lifts us up from the muck of daily life. Humans probably enjoy the thought that other humans are smiling at them as if they knew one another. Or maybe they enjoy contemplating on what's wrong with the smiling person. Did they just win the lottery? Get a promotion? Got a wife? Got diagnosed with excessive happiness?

The point is, as simple as a smile really is, it can make a difference to the people around. Try it. Smile while you're on your morning commute. You don't have to smile at anyone in particular, but smile while staring out the window. Smile while you pass your fare to the driver. Smile while you wait for the other passengers to get seated. Smile when you're walking. Sometimes you don't even need a reason to smile. When you find that you don't have a reason to smile, smile, and by some bizarre phenomenon, you'll find yourself thinking, There must be something wrong with me. I'm going crazy. Et voila! A reason to smile, because you know there's nothing wrong with you. You're not going crazy. You know it, but the people around you don't. Now what better reason to smile about than knowing something that no one else knows about?

Finally, to end this random smiling post, I'd also like to point out that smiling at people can also comfort them. "I'm here for you. I'm human too." I don't know how that works, but smiles tend to show vulnerability and ultimately the humanness of all of us. An existence based on weakness is nothing really to be proud of, but knowing that another mortal, another person who may have a more difficult life than the one you have, takes an extra effort to use those facial muscles for the better might actually spark hope for the human race. Humanity is not that doomed after all.

So yeah, I'll stop here.



  1. “Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”
    ― Mother Teresa


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