I was out shopping a few weeks ago, searching for a winter coat. My white coat finally retired after eight cold Michigan winters full of sledding, shoveling, shivering, and a little bit of skiing. I haven’t thrown it away because it is still storing some memories.
The store was fancy. People seemed frantic. I walked right past her. I didn’t even see her sitting there, alone. My friend Karen stopped, smiled, and said the friendliest “hello” to the little old lady sitting alone, on the edge of what must’ve been a very uncomfortable square block shared by the mannequins behind her.
At first, the little old lady looked startled. Quickly, she smiled back, and her heart filled up. I saw the sweetest transformation! Her heart filled up and she smiled right back! Karen made her day. She noticed this woman that I flew right past. She saw her, and connected with her.
Karen’s smile and “hello” must’ve brought the little old lady back to a time when that was the norm. I see it happen in all of the old movies, so it must’ve been the norm. Waving to people as they pass, stopping to say hello, or just a sweet smile. Making people feel… important. Valuing them. Seeing them.
I wonder if the little old lady went out that day, with her daughter perhaps, just so that she wasn’t alone at the nursing home. Stuck in a small room, silence as loud as a deafening concert. Loneliness screaming at her. I wonder if she knew she would get tired of shopping rather quickly, but she’d rather share a mannequin’s uncomfortable square block than hear the silence. I wonder if she felt the world passing her by. I wonder if she gave up on people saying hello, waving, and smiling at her.
Whatever the reason, Karen’s gesture was exactly what the little old lady needed that day.
Karen taught me something that I was able to teach my daughter this past Friday.
We went to the gym to play tennis. Sometimes, the people at the gym aren’t very friendly. This past Friday, my daughter had a bad experience with a staff member who who was very stressed out, and not so nice to her. As my daughter relayed the story to me, I tried to explain all of the reasons why the staff member might have been overwhelmed: the tennis area was busy, several people were demanding things from her, we were a few minutes late for our court time, we didn’t know how it all worked, and we had a lot of questions…
My daughter was still very upset about how she was treated.
I thought back to Karen, and the little old lady at the fancy store. I told my daughter that we will experience stressed out people almost daily throughout our lifetime. We can either take it personally, or we can be merry & bright. I know it sounds fluffy and fake, but it works. When we want to respond to negativity with negativity, no one wins. If we respond with positivity in the form of a smile, even in the midst of the figurative arrows that might be shot right at us, we might just make someone’s day.
I hope that the little old lady returned to her home a little bit happier that day.
I hope that, even in the midst of the negativity that this world brings, we never forget that we have love, and hope to share.
There is darkness in the world, but it has been overcome. There was a battle, between good and evil, and good won. There has been a victory.
An endless love pours out over us, allowing us to be
Merry & Bright.