When thoughts turn to smiles

One of the things I love about blogging is the thrill of the unknown. Take for instance, now, for example. I pretty much have an endless source of material for blogging topics, but love that I can sit down and just let the words flow while the hum of the washing machine fills the background void.

While in KY last week, I was struck once more by the hospitality and friendliness of the people I met as I walked the sidewalks and streets of downtown Louisville. If you wanted eye contact, it was there for you to receive. If you smiled, one was returned. A smile returned–what a gift!

I’ve lived in Colorado a long time. I was recalling how friendly this beautiful place seemed when I first moved here and then for at least another decade, thereafter. It was the same feeling you get when you realize you’re where you’re supposed to be: it just fits, you know?

For some reason, Colorado hasn’t seemed as friendly as it once was, to me. It could be me, but I mostly stopped looking for eye contact awhile ago when someone passed me on the sidewalk or street, my full smiles upon passing someone muted to the point where they were awkward half-grins and it felt like NY where you looked straight ahead or down at the sidewalk, as you ambled about, for fear of hearing a salty, “What are you looking at?”

Well, I’m here to tell you that I’ve found the friendliness in Colorado once more. I hope it just wasn’t a one-time occurrence, but in the smile of a young boy of no more than six or seven, and a wave of his little hand and an enthusiastic “Hello!” as I jogged along the path, my faith was restored. I mean, his mom, who was pushing a stroller with perhaps his younger sister or brother onboard, even returned my hello to her son with one of her own, and a wave of her hand meeting mine, as I jogged on by them. I thought to myself, “How nice!”

If that wasn’t hitting the sweet spot, I don’t know what is. Simple friendly gestures made and returned. I was again the beneficiary of the power of optimism and positivity.

In these days of social networking, Web 2.0 technologies and the ability to hide behind a computer monitor, we’ve lost something–the part of Americana that was found at the local, independent coffee shop on Saturday mornings, where everyone was engaging and friendly. To try a chain spot such as a Starbucks today, would display just the opposite: the isolation and self-absorption to be found as you sip your coffee and use the FREE Wi-Fi! to check your portfolio, email or instant messages on your phone or laptop; convenient  from the standpoint of 24/7 contact availability, but definitely not a help to anyone already lacking in social graces and hasn’t experienced the power of a smile returned from anyone other than the barista filling their order, in quite some time.

So, we have a generation such as mine that’s enjoyed pre-Internet days as well as modern days, and one that’s only known modern days.  For my generation, the web affords connectivity and instant memories that didn’t exist prior to it.

With all this great innovation over the last 20 years, people should be happier generally speaking, but seemingly, they are not. We need to get back to playing more, like we did when we were kids. And speaking of kids, when they smile, wave and say hello, return the greeting. It’ll make you feel good.



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