Much More Than A Smile

  For some reason I am reminded of this most vivid memory:

  I have just climbed into my car to drive to a job I hate.  As I roll down the road past the school, I see a little girl skipping along the sidewalk ahead of her mother.  She has a cute little plush puppy on a leash.  As she runs and skips, her pigtails flying, the puppy bounces and drags along behind her.  Completely oblivious to this (I am sure to this little girl her puppy was real and alive and romping along with her) she continues to run and play, splashing in puddles, running circles around trees, dragging the poor plush puppy through mud and leaves and bouncing it over curbs and cracks in the sidewalk.

  Despite my lousy mood, I cannot help but smile.  This little girl and her joy are truly infectious.  And her mother, glancing up as I pass, catches me smiling.  She returns my smile with a warmth that shines forth radiantly, a warmth and pleasure every bit as bright as her love for her child.  She overflows with adoration for her precocious little girl, and I feel some of that happiness overflow into me.

  Work somehow did not seem so bad, after that.

  I have thought about it a lot, since then, both while working that day and later, too.  Often, when I am feeling down, this memory comes flooding back to me in all its glory-bright autumn color and super-charged sensory detail.  And if does not come back on its own, I can summon it, with a little effort, and then even the lousiest day no longer seems so bad.  But I did not realize the significance of this until a few months later.

  I was reading, as I am wont to do, about a subject I happened to be curious about at the time.  The subject was Zen, and the words I was reading were telling me about every day moments, and the beauty that exists in them.  Whether it be washing the dishes, sweeping the floor, playing with your grandchildren, doing whatever you do at work, or simply sitting and enjoying a cup of tea, with every passing moment we have the choice to be fully conscious, fully present in the here and now.  When we make this choice, we let go of hopes for the future, we let go of hurts from the past, and we tune in to the joy of the moment.  It is always right there, and always available.  Sadly, we are usually too distracted to notice.

  The author went on to say that we have all experienced moments of beauty and joy like this, every one of us, and if we just let our minds drift, we will recall them before too long.  He encouraged me to find these memories, to dredge them up from the deeps and polish them off.  I did so, and this little girl and her puppy bounced and romped their way through my memory just like they did on the day I first saw them.  It still made me smile, and smiling made me remember the stunning glow of the little girl’s mother, and how she so freely shared it with me.

  And that, too, was touched upon by the author of this book on Zen.  He encouraged me to share these moments, and in sharing them, help to create more moments of joy.  A memory that I keep for my own happiness is a beautiful thing, but a memory that I share with you to make you smile and laugh is a joy for both of us.  And every time we share these lovely things, we get better at it.  We notice them more often, remember them better, and give them away more freely.

  Thank you for reading.  Please feel free to share your little moments of joy, too, either here or on your own little piece of the internet.  Neat thing about the net, you can never really fill it up.  There is plenty of space for radiantly beautiful memories.

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Published in: on August 19, 2009 at 5:06 am  Comments (1)  
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  1. I’m trying to think of an example of this to let you in on…

    Sadly, I can’t think of one off the top of my head (what an awesome phrase) but I do know that when those moments happen, they do make me really, really happy. I know I have had them before – so the next time one comes around, I’ll try to retain it.


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