Smiling at strangers

[I’ve been thinking about this for a while but I’m finally inspired to post about it by a friend who spent the afternoon handing out flowers to random strangers.]

In Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, the first time you stare into a wizard’s eyes, you see each other’s souls. But most of the time when the author/narrator explains this, he also points out that something intimate happens even when normal people make eye contact. Go up to a stranger, he challenges, and look into their eyes. You might get into trouble, because it’s uncomfortable. A connection is formed.

Each time I read about this, I think about smiles. Because as far as I can tell, they’re like… the bright side of eye contact. I like to smile at strangers. There’s something magical about sharing an unprovoked smile with a passerby on the street. I’ve  smiled at somebody who didn’t notice at first, lost in their own thoughts, but when they did, a huge genuine grin came over their face.  I’ve been on the receiving end as well and being smiled at by a stranger has brightened my whole day.

I mean real smiles, of course. Not the ‘howareyou’ smiles or generally pleasant expressions some people cultivate. The sort of smile that comes from inside when you feel the joy of being alive. It’s easy to tap into that joy when you meet the eyes of a stranger. Personally, I think it’s because it’s a near-tangible reminder that you exist, you’re real and even in an incredibly tiny way, you matter. You’re connected. But whatever the reason, I think Harry Dresden should try it sometime.

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