It was a trying day. Bogged down with work woes and personal struggle, I trudged into a neighborhood bookstore to look for distraction in a novel. Amazon was still just a name of a faraway rain forest and online shopping was non-existent yet. Not that I minded it one bit. I loved that little bookstore and miss it terribly. But, I digress.
A book caught my eye as I walked down the fiction/mystery section and I was starting to flip through the pages when I felt tears starting to well up. I tried to hide my face behind the book and casually wiped the tears away. The store was unusually crowded too and the last thing I needed were eyes on me. But, the tears, despite my plea, continued slowly down my face. My emotional lid was about to burst open at the worst possible time. I tried to keep as still as possible and kept my face hidden behind the book. No one would notice. No one should notice… I wiped away the tears again, as casually as I could, as if I was rubbing my eyes. I decided it was time to make a run for the exit before I started sobbing.
I quickly put down the book and that’s when she stepped in front of me. She was a small elderly lady, her gray hair a little disheveled. She looked hesitant and unsure of what to do. Then she gave me a smile, a toothless one at that too. Not a question, not a word. Just a warm and genuine smile. I just quickly nodded my head and left. I wish I could have thanked her but my throat was constricted from all the holding back.
I learned something that day. Never underestimate what a smile can accomplish. No, it wasn’t an answer to my problems. But, that smile understood my duress and offered solace. That smile was compassion. She was a stranger but her simple gesture of kindness made a difference. To know that someone wanted to help and that someone had cared, no matter how briefly, meant a lot to me. I realized then that I can pass on a sliver of encouragement to others too by giving the gift of smile.
And just in case you need one, I am giving you a smile today. 🙂
Featured image by Kat Smith from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-woman-holding-a-green-paper-736842/