The Beauty of Being Seen or Why You Should Smile at Strangers

About two months ago, my boyfriend and I got in a pretty big fight. In truth, I was fighting with myself {and he was the nearest punching bag}. After huffing and puffing down the road, I ended up at our local park— a place I often turn to for refuge in the middle of the week when my mind is busy and/or the condo noise becomes too much.

Only on this day, everyone else was at the park too. I quickly hightailed it past the pond and the bird aviary to the more secluded trail area. I didn’t think the moms with toddlers looking at ducks needed to see my tear-stained face.

Ok, I didn’t want to be seen. 

I just wanted to sit near the creek and the trees, still naked from winter, and just be by my miserable self. Except even the bugs weren’t content on leaving me be. I reluctantly arose after about 15 minutes and headed back toward civilization.

On the way back, I saw a boy with chubby fingers and sandy colored hair, squeezing his mom’s hand as they walked down the sloped trail access area. Though we were the only people within eyesight, I was going to walk by, blubbering head down and not acknowledge them.

I like to have space when I’m out with family, I reasoned. It’s not rude, it’s actually the polite, respectable thing to do. There’s too much artificial sentiment in our society.. and then suddenly, right there in the middle of my rationalizations, the sweetest, high pitched “hi” interrupted it all.

I gave an enthusiastic “hi” back and returned to my car, crying this time for the tenderness, the heartfelt acknowledgment I received from someone I don’t know and who probably can’t even tie his shoes yet.

Kids are powerful this way.

We don’t have to say a single word or be anyone other than ourselves to feel seen and heard by them. And there’s complete acceptance of what is. They are not judging or labeling us or trying to make us feel bad about our feelings.

They can just be with us because they don’t know anything different than the magic of this moment. They aren’t regretting yesterday’s choices or escaping into fear about tomorrow.

I aspire to practice this kind of presence in my life. I don’t think there’s anything better we can gift ourselves, or the world.

So the next time you’re in a hurry or caught in your own hamster wheel of a mind, look around, and extend the next person you see a sincere, deep, from-your-soul smile. It might just turn both your days around.

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