Chris GarberSmile.

I have been doing a little social experiment out and about. Instead of walking by people without a kind gesture, I have made it a point to engage. Namely walking to and from the pool, “good morning!”, to the diverse segment of humanity that pass by. It is shocking that most have eyes diverted downwards, or off to the side, 8 times out of 10—as if who-is-this-white-dude-approaching-let-him-pass. Avoid. Then I look out on the grounds of the park and see families collected around a blanket, maybe a ice chest, samplings of food, a ball and maybe a frisbee. Sometimes a charcoal grill… Parents engaging with their children with love—there is a lot of laughter, happy shrieking, and mostly chatter in a language I can’t understand—I do though understand the language of joy and laughter. And love. I do a Buddhist practice, Exchanging Self with Others, and imagine underneath this joy and laughter, the tough life that is endured. This adventure to the park, could barely be within their grasp financially, but it is a respite from their un-airconditioned apartments, and in between working three jobs to make ends meet, perhaps. Sometimes these parents are resting, as the kids bound about. Exhausted parents. But, these parents are giving joy, laughter and love to their kids. That costs nothing other than tapping in to the heart. Compassion. Love. Back to my stroll—the 2 times out of the 10 that eyes are not diverted, I say, “good morning!”, I get back an astonished look, who-is-this-white-dude is met with a smile, a timid, “hello/good morning”, and they smile. Their eyes at times look weary, they don’t have perfect teeth, their skin is darker than mine, their eyes look different that mine—but they do have a surprise sparkle in their eyes! How wonderful! All it took was a simple, “good morning!” and a smile.

This walk from the car to the pool takes a mere three minutes. Let’s all open our eyes. Celebrate our diversity. And, love one another. Try it. It will make you feel awfully good!

Look up right now, no matter what you are doing, and smile. Do it!