It was early Saturday morning, earlier than I thought I would be up, but I could tell, as I peeked through the blinds, that the day was dawning brilliantly clear and it was inviting me out to play.
I donned my walking clothes, bundling up on the layers that insulate me from the brisk winds of this season and I stepped out onto the porch, breathing in the cold, crisp air of the autumn morning. Looking around, I spied blankets of once-vibrantly-colored leaves now fading into death upon the ground. Many of the trees were skeletal remains of their summer selves, having shed their reds and yellows, oranges and golds. The neighborhood was quiet, no one was yet up. It was Saturday morning, after all. Most households were embracing the respite from the get-up-and-GO! energy of their work-a-day lives.
I stepped forward with purpose, turning on my iPod to listen to the vision I have recorded for myself. As my steps picked up speed, along with my heart rate, I drank in all the visual stimulation with wonder. I love Autumn and I have really enjoyed my morning walks through the ever-changing landscape that is my neighborhood, as the seasons have turned from the green brilliance of summer to the fiery colors of autumn to the browning as Mother Nature prepares for her long winter’s nap.
Rarely do I come across other walkers or runners when I am out on my morning walks. However, as I hiked farther and farther from my home, spending more time out in the world, more and more people began dotting the sidewalks and roadways. Our neighborhood is a labyrinthine collection of large blocks of land that go in circles, each about a mile around. Because of this, I had the opportunity to pass by several different people twice that morning… once on my upward climb and once on their upward climb.
Just as I crested the top of the long hill, one particular man set out of his house at a dead run. Perhaps he had warmed up inside, but there was no stretching or slow start after he closed his front door. He just took off at a mad dash, hoodie bouncing upon his back, fists clenched, chin up. He smiled at me and nodded – the requisite gestures, I suppose, when one passes a stranger who is also out, milling about the neighborhood in the name of exercise.
About 15 minutes later, on a neutral plateau, I met him once again. This time, he was walking and his grin literally stretched from ear-to-ear and it was such a beautiful, big smile, I could see it when we were still about 50 steps away from each other. Infectiously spreading to my face, I smiled back because I couldn’t stop myself.
We continued at our paces which eventually brought us parallel with one another. At that point, his smile grew broader, although I couldn’t imagine that possibility, as did mine. With a slight, gallant bow and sweeping of his arms before him, he tilted his head to me regally, as though he were bowing before a Queen. His action was startling, causing my breath to catch in my chest and a fire to burst forth in my heart, igniting my smile.
His eyes locked on mine and, with a very thick accent that I could not place, he asked through his radiant smile, “How are you feeling?”
His question made my heart thump happily. It wasn’t the common, “How are you?” It was so much more. And it required a response that was also so much more.
“I am feeling great, happy, and radiant! You?”
“YES!” he said, as we both walked backwards to finish our conversation while continuing in our separate directions. “Yes! That is just how I feel on this glorious day!”
He waved and turned back to his path as I turned to mine. I suspect that his journey lightened, just as mine did after our brief interchange. I know that, for me, the entire scope of my day shifted in that one, short connection.
It was such a happy moment and so powerfully affirming as to the power of a smile, kindness, connection. In that moment, we each had the opportunity to choose into a connection with a stranger or to ignore one another. By choosing to connect, we experienced a minute of divinity right there, in the middle of our morning exercise routines. And, on my end, that divine essence sparked within me so that, from that point forward, I felt the tangible presence of Love and it was in every other interaction I engaged in throughout my day.
When you are out and about in the world, how do you engage? How do you respond to those who may cross your path? Do you seek out opportunities to connect? Do you embrace those opportunities? Or do you tuck tail and run?
I invite you to open your eyes, raise your chin, and find the reasons to smile this day, create ways to connect. You may just be the one smile that transforms another’s life!
I always welcome your thoughts, questions, and comments.
Feel free to jot down what you’re thinking in the comment box below.