Kindness makes me smile. I stand in the post office, first in line behind an elderly woman at the counter. She is buying Christmas cards and stamps, and has much to tell the young woman who is helping her. They talk quietly, patiently about the weight of the cards, the design of the stamps, the size of the plastic bag to put her order into.
The line behind me grows longer. The time it is taking to serve one customer is exceptional, uncalled for. People are shifting from one foot to the other, glancing at their watches. Never mind; the young clerk is oblivious, taking the time to answer the older woman’s concerns, the wisp of a smile on her face as she engages and enjoys conversing with a woman who could be her great-grandmother. I smile too; kindness makes me smile.
Innocence makes me smile. I cycle along a canal in the city center, behind a trio of American tourists – father, mother, teenage daughter – on rented bikes. Mother, calling out softly to her daughter ahead, says in a concerned sing-song voice: “Lisa….Your underwear is showing!”
Indeed, barely poking out above her jeans as she leans forward on the bicycle, the elastic rim of Lisa’s underpants can (only just) be seen. In Amsterdam this would never, in a million years, be of interest or concern to any passer by. I smile; innocence makes me smile.
Delight makes me smile. My dog has a new bone which he snatches up in haste and parades, head held high, swaggering, into the living room. He throws the bone across the room and barks at it, his tail wagging non-stop. He pounces, picks it up, and starts the game again. Over and over he repeats himself; we sit on the sofa and chuckle as we share his pride and pleasure. Delight makes us smile.
Honesty makes me smile. The boy with Down’s Syndrome, a complete stranger, looks straight into my eyes, grabs my hand, and asks how I am doing. So earnest, so unafraid, so…real. When do we lose this as we grow older, I wonder, for I have seen this unflinching look in the eyes of young children too, staring at me, measuring me, from their prams. I can’t help but smile; honesty makes me smile.