your smile can light a dark path

Fresh out of high school, I was driving my shiny new Corolla on the freeway when a car passed by with a seemingly friendly honk.

Unsure as to its exact intent, I glanced over at the driver, who saluted me, while his passenger, likely his wife, leaned over and waved. I’d never seen them before, and as far as I know, haven’t met them since.

red car w sunburstThat split-second encounter sustained me for days.ย  I was struggling with a not-yet diagnosed mental disorder and falling into deep despair on a routine basis. My parents, now in the middle of their divorce and focused on their own lives, were distant and angry when I turned to them for encouragement. I had little in common with my siblings, and we weren’t much of a support system for each other.

So for strangers to reach out to me in that small way, for whatever unknown reason, meant a lot. What made it even more meaningful was the weary look on both faces of this couple, who had two curly-haired children asleep in car seats and luggage piled high in the back of their small out-of-state station wagon. As young as I was, I knew enough to feel for them, and to appreciate a friendly gesture made despite their own obvious fatigue.

I said a quick prayer for those people who would always be strangers to me, and over the years since, when they’ve come to mind, I’ve done the same again.

Happy And Sad Smileys Showing Emotions

I trust their small yet meaningful act of kindness has come back to them at times they needed it most. Who knows what road life has taken them on; mine certainly went nowhere near the path I anticipated.

A gracious word, a flagging but compassionate nod, an unexpected and sincere grin. Never doubt it: little things mean a lot, and your smile can light a dark path.

Image Credits: (outline of car) ยฉ; (smiling/frowning faces) ยฉ Stuart Miles —

29 Replies to “your smile can light a dark path”

  1. It’s amazing how lovely little things matter and go a long way. Sometimes we forget even to smile to/at ourselves, let alone to one another. It’s also incredible how we can form a connection with strangers, how they can make us feel better, albeit for a little while. Thanks for the reminder, Belinda.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. They really do, and I think they come back to you. There’s a lot of “what goes around, comes around” thinking that I’m not confident of — I don’t think it’s always that clear cut — but I think reaching out to people, even in simple ways, will come back to you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree! At office, we get free pens and small notebooks. So, the last day I had gone to get a notebook for myself. The person who is charge of giving all those smiled nicely and said, “Madam, do you need a pen too?” I did not need one, but the fact that he cared made me feel happy for a long time afterwards.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know! I was talking to a customer service rep for the phone company once, and at the end he said, “have a nice weekend,” and I said, “you too!” He seemed really surprised and pleased and said, “thank you!” I thought, how many people does he say this to every day who don’t say those simple words in return?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Looking for some inspiration bedtime read before I end my day and I’m glad I stumbled upon this treasure! Thank you for such a well written piece.

    Just want to tell you I enjoyed it very much.

    Liked by 1 person

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