Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Wednesday Wish (15)

“Why do you always walk that way when this way is faster?”
My neighbor and friend looked at me through her glasses, blinking, utterly confused. We were on our way to class at the University of Washington and as usual, it was raining and cold.
I shrugged. “I like this way better. It makes me smile.”
Her eyes spun a ‘woa, she’s weirder than I thought’ before she turned to follow me. A few minutes later, “Has anything made you smile? Just want to be sure I’m not missing something.”
“Almost there," I said.
 I was sure I heard her moan but I chose to ignore it. It wouldn’t be long. She would understand soon. Very soon. Or so I hoped.

The window to the barbershop was large. Maybe as large as entire car. I had walked this way for weeks now and every chance I got, I passed by their window. At first, I just turned and gave the two men inside a shy smile but after about a week, when they began to return my joy, it grew into a full-fledged smile, the kind that warms you from the inside out. They looked like they had found the same joy themselves. I saw it day after day in their sparkling eyes and of course, their smiles. So on this particular day, I was passing by with a friend. It was something I hadn’t done before. I could hardly wait.

I stopped and tapped on the glass with my knuckles. My friend stood beside me, not saying a word. First one barber, then the other, turned toward the window to see who was there and not a second later both of their faces erupted into sparkles. I waved my mittened hands, my heart warmed by our connection. I didn’t even know their names, but I knew their hearts and they were filled with kindness.
            “Are they friend’s of your dad?”
            “Your grandpa’s?”
            “Then how’d you meet them?
“I didn’t.”
            “You mean, you don’t know them? I don’t get it. You just waved and they waved back like you were old friends.”
            “I’ve never spoken with them. I just see them everyday on my way to class, and we share smiles.”
            “You smile at strangers?”
            “They aren’t strangers anymore. Not after the first smile. And that was weeks ago.”
            I think that’s when I felt the second, ‘woa, she really is weirder than I thought.’ But I didn’t mind. My heart was on fire and that was all that really mattered to me.

 *          *          *
 My Wednesday Wish for You?

To connect with a stranger this week. And not on the internet or on the phone (although such connections are fun, too!) but the old-fashioned way—in person. Smile with your genuine eyes, let someone you don’t know feel the kindness in your heart. And don’t worry if they don’t take it the right way. We can’t control what others think. Just worry about getting yourself right. Center yourself in your heart, in that place that cares about others and wants the world to be a better, more friendly place. Feel that. Be there. And then, with that intent, give it away. As a smile. To a stranger. And watch your world grow smaller, kinder, and more caring…with every smile you share.

*          *          * 
p.s. the barbershop guys of my college years became my dear friends. We shared family joys and sorrows, celebrated birthdays, exchanged Christmas presents, and many years later, I even invited them to my wedding. The way I see it, if we dare to open our hearts, we give strangers the chance to affect our worlds for the better. Guy and Rick did mine—two beautiful people I will have with me in my heart for the rest of my life. If you are out there Guy and Rick, I'm still waving!:)


  1. Beautiful story Brynne. You are absolutely right, by offering a simple smile or gesture of kindness, the power that can have in brightening someone's day. You never know what they're current situation is, but a friendly smile can speak volumes, especially to someone who needs a friend at that exact moment.

    Big smiles to you Brynne, and your Wednesday Wish will be fulfilled multiple times from this end!

  2. Of all people...I know you, John, to be someone who loves to share his joy with those he doesn't even know. What a gift you are to anyone who comes across your path! I bet you single-handedly affect hundreds of smiles a day!!:) HooorayYY, magic boy!

  3. I love that, "Just worry about getting yourself right."

    And you know what, you are weird, thank goodness! (teasing, sweets)

    If only more were like you what a world this would be!

  4. Cheers to weird, dear Tracey! Thank you, sweet friend! Oh, how I love knowing you come to play with me here!

  5. Wow - I love that you do this - it is something I try to do - smile (really smile) at people and lately actually talk to them - it is a joy like no other when someone opens up back to you.

  6. I hear you Jo...and when it happens you really begin to feel that the world is a heck of a lot more kind and beautiful then you ever realized before, that hearts aren't as deeply in hiding as we sometimes believe them to be.:)

  7. Oh Brynne, how inspiring! Your wish is my command ;-) What a WONDERFUL story!!! It made my heart happy and put a smile on my face.
    Awhile back I spoke at a writer’s conference with Maya Angelou. She told the story of being in a grocery store and seeing someone whom she knows has spotted her. But instead of acknowledging her presence, that person just turns and looks the other way rather than risk eye contact or – God forbid - conversation. The woman averts her eyes and pretends to be reading labels on the cans of peaches, treating Maya like a gnat to be brushed away. But how much trouble would it have been to simply smile and say hello?

    How difficult is it to acknowledge the existence of another? You never know what a difference that simple gesture of kindness might make. A smile can lift the gloom from a person’s day and remind them that they are worthy of recognition. That they are special enough to merit attention. That they are somebody.

  8. Guess what everyone??? I just found the phone number of Guy's Barber shop online and called them! Rick answered and he remembered me!!! (its been over 20 years!) I told him that I still had both of them in my heart and that hundreds of people around the world were now reading our happy story!! From one smile...to life magic! JOY!!

  9. I LOVE your story TOO, Debra! Thank you for sharing it here!! And it happened to Maya Angelo of all people...one of the hugest hearts on the planet! Goodness!

    All this talk reminds me of the meaning of 'Namaste', the greeting in parts of the East which when translated means: the light in me acknowledges the light in you. I think a genuine smile with bright eyes has the same heart centered meaning, don't you? What lovely feelings you always give me with every comment you share, dear soul! Love and happies, sweet Debra!!:)

  10. Brynne, your conversation with your neighbor reminds me of the many I have with the Significant Other every time we go out. "Do you know that man?" "Do you know the woman who just waved at you?" "Who is the lady smiling at you?" Yep. I know the conversation well. Like you, I love making connections. Most of the time when I smile at a stranger, I wonder if it's the only smile he or she received that day. And it makes my sad to think what would've happened if I hadn't smiled. So I smile away! I love this post, lady! Big hugs! :)

  11. I didn't think this story could get any better, until I read you had contacted them again. Tell them John says hi! :-)

  12. There's always someone who thinks this sort of thing is weird. We need more of the people who share friendly smiles!

  13. Beautiful Bella...you got me thinking. What would happen if the two of us went on a walk together??! Makes me giggle thinking of all the possibilities, of all the smiles shared! I am sure we would get into some incredible situations and we'd both run home to write about it on our blogs! I LOVE it that we share the smile/reach out to others gene! Hooray! Does the Son, too? My little girl definitely has it. Except she takes it one step further...she has to hug everyone she meets! Going to the grocery store to buy one thing can take hours!!:)

  14. Sweet sweet roughwater John...maybe you already told them hello yourself! I told Rick where to find this and to be sure to click on the comments...so hopefully he read your kind words! Thank you! HUGS, my friend!

  15. YAY, Deniz! I agree! I can feel your kind, smiling support! Thank you, sweet girl!:)

  16. Love, love, love this story! I have found a soul-mate in your :-) My son is always saying, "How do you know that person?" or "Does that man know you?" I can't help but smile at people. It makes me sad when I'm out on my walk and someone is walking toward me whom I don't know, and as they near, they put their head down as to avoid contact with a stranger. I don't get that at all. A simple smile and a "hello" is so hard? I guess it is for some people.

    Love your story and love that you contacted them again after all these years!!

  17. Of course we are soul-mate smilers, Michael Ann! OoOh...how could any parent ask for any more from their preschool teacher? What's more important?? Your kids are soOo lucky to have you as their teacher! (and of course your own babies are the luckiest of all!!)

    And the 'head down to avoid connecting' syndrome is one of the things I love about Mexico. It barely ever happens here! Hearts seem less in hiding here...and that feeds my own heart. Maybe you need to come visit! Do you think my little town could handle all our happy?:)