How a Smile Saved My Life.

Posted on Posted in How to Love & Be Loved.


I had the strangest day.

I’m not sure that I can even begin to go into it, really—it was so weird.

But I was standing at the counter in a chiropractor’s office—who isn’t my chiropractor—and this woman walked in, as I’m filling out paperwork, and she says sweetly after waiting several pauses, while I’m hogging up the whole countertop, that she is going to sign in but that she won’t disturb my baby, sleeping in her carseat at my feet.

She tells my oldest daughter what a good big sister she is.

They have a short interaction and the pain in my hip subsides because the warmth in my heart took over.

I stand there in these seconds of interaction, in awe of the human animal.

Complete awe.

I eventually get led into this other little room, where the doctor will do my much needed adjustment and we pass this same woman in an adjoining room and her eyes smile so kindly at me and it feels like a hug; she’s waiting patiently, obviously having had an appointment, whereas I had driven desperately there and just gone in.

I observe wordlessly that when we are in pain, the gentlest human touch has the most profound effect.

I am enriched by this exchange.

I am given a little boost of energy when I truly need it.

To me, these little moments of interaction are huge.

Later, I decided to go to my local open-air market after still not feeling well; after my oldest child was behaving hyperactively and my youngest—in hopefully what is a passing, teething haze—was actively just plain angry at her babyhood.

Because how in the hell is it only 4:30 in the afternoon?

So we go there, and I almost don’t stop. I almost keep driving, with the heated seat warmer driving on my back as I angstily maneuver my stick-shift car up hilly terrain along to thumping Rage Against the Machine—I almost keep on driving.

But I didn’t.

I stopped.

And, before I know it, my daughter is eating pretzel sticks and drinking the water I brought while we sit on a hexagon-shaped picnic bench; the baby in her stroller next to us, not happy, but happier to be in a sweetly blowing breeze and some diffused sunlight beneath the kind-of shade of a tree on a blue-sky day.

We’re sitting there with both of my girls looking all around at a few scattered people, at this intense blue above us and I’m pathetically doing boat poses, into low boat poses, into boat pose on this hexagonal bench because I’m pretty desperate to exercise.

And I don’t care how I look. Honestly, for one of the few times in my life, I don’t care how I look doing boat pose on a hexagon-shaped bench by a rather busy country road at an outdoor market.

And not in a look-at-me-I’m-20-and-angry-at-the-way-the-world-works kind of way. No, just an I-truly-don’t-give-a-damn-I’m-so-effing-uncomfortable-in-my-life-and-haven’t-had-enough-sleep way.

I see this farmer who I’ve seen every day that we’ve been going to this market, which is a lot, since I’ve frankly been up most nights with an unhappy baby and our visits provide momentary relief.

He waves.

He smiles.

Later, as we’re leaving—not happily, because my oldest daughter doesn’t want to leave and I, too, feel like I could spend the rest of my life there reading under the breeze of an inappropriately huge wooden swing, but we do because our baby is restless and, more, because it’s dinner-making time.

This farmer comes up and smiles at me, and talks to me—really talks to me. And I’m crazy in my I-haven’t-spoken-to-adults-enough-all-day way, but I can see in his eyes, and in his voice, that he gets it.

He says he has a three year old and a six year old and he gets needing to get out of the house all of a sudden before you go nuts, and he gets teething, and we discover that we each had one who teethed silently and without problem (our eldest) and ones that made us understand how insanity is equated with teething (our youngest).

And I realize, as I’m piling my children and the beets and carrots and pretzel sticks that we bought into the car, that these silent, subtle, could-have-been-missed glances of a stranger’s eyes have made my entire day both miraculous and wonderful in what was otherwise a pretty challenging day.

And I store away, for when I’ll  long to avoid a stranger’s eyes because it’s so much easier, that this might also be the thing that saves today.


Photo: Flickr/Smile.

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