I think smiles are contagious! I spend a lot of time during my lengthy commute back and forth from Long Island to New York City in packed commuter and subway cars with a lot of people trying their best NOT to make eye contact. It is as though the insecurity of an unguarded glance might open up a floodgate of unwanted conversations, overtures or even a snarky glare back. That stuff does not worry me.
I love watching people and my mind works overtime observing their moods, nuances and gauging their states of being. So when I look at someone, I am actually looking at him or her, enjoying their humanity, the brief moment of their company, the realization that I am not alone.
Six million people are on the same path that I am every day in the subways of New York City. It is amazing how detached they are. Matter of fact, I am mystified when someone is inadvertently bumped or pushed how upset they get. I want so scream, “There are 6-million people down here, this is what it looks like, this is what it feels like and sadly enough, this is what it smells like! If you can’t take it, you should not be trying to live here!” But I know better than to engage anyone in that conversation, especially when they are annoyed by physical contact. But I digress…
When I meet someone’s eyes I smile, ever so slightly then courteously look away. To me, it is respect and appreciation of their being. There is nothing forward, or inviting about it. It is acknowledgement that we are fellow travelers. Sometimes people would smile back. Other times, they just look away. There are also times when people would process that I had just smiled at them and wait to catch my eyes and smile back. I have occasionally been times when the smile would move though the car like a wave in a stadium making the atmosphere warmer and maybe even more humane.
I especially love smiling at kids. Most babies are already freaked out by all the people, the train noise and commotion. But a smile is something babies seem to understand. But I have to admit that smiling at babies does more to lift me that it probably does to lift them. They are always the first to acknowledge you, either by smiling back, a quick wave, or tugging on their parents. Thank God that I don’t come off as creepy!
I love people. I love being around them, interacting with them and seeing them happy. I’m very happy so I’m just spreading the love. It’s a healthy thing to do!