Make it genuine

I was running this morning. Literally, not figuratively. The dog was keeping her working pace at my side – I always feel so much more serious when I glance down at Jazz, she really hits her stride next to me when I jog and looks like she’s … well, working so I feel obliged to put a decent effort in because she is – when I noticed an elderly woman up ahead.

She looked quite frail and was wearing sensible slacks, court shoes and a cable knit jumper that stopped at her waist. She was walking a little white dog. I’ve just described pretty much every elderly woman going for a walk, haven’t I? But I digress.

When the woman looked up and saw us coming, she crossed the street hurriedly. I had already decided I would run down one of the driveway cross-sections and onto the street to go around her. So I felt kind of bad for being the cause of her struggling her dog across the road. As I got closer, I looked over to her where she was now pacing up the opposite footpath. The look on her face was dark. A scowl at “the youth of today” if ever I saw one. Granted, without makeup I do still look like I haven’t even hit my mid-twenties or had a hard day in my life. HAR! Har-dee-har…har…. ahem. Little do they know when they see what they think is a fresh-faced girl. Sometimes, just to digress again, I honestly wish some of the experiences of my life would show up on my face. They just. Don’t. You can’t help genes, I guess.

Anyway, she was still looking at me and I was looking at her. I was concentrating on not tripping, not wavering and bumping the dog – we’ve done that before and, oh boy, it isn’t pleasant for either Jazz or me (her poor toes) – so it took me a moment for the thought in my head “Smile a greeting” to reach my lips and work the muscles of my face. I’m old enough now to not take on whatever the response is going to be to my smile. Sometimes it’s returned, other times it’s not. That’s all cool. Especially in the solitary quiet of a lovely early morning where people get out on their own and usually want to be on their own without some fitness goon grinning their chops off at them.

I kept my smile on. I wanted to call out to her an apology for making her cross the road. It had obviously put her out. I really hadn’t wanted to disrupt her path but didn’t want to go out on the road too early to round her. But because I was running I was passing her quicker than I would’ve been able to say the words. I thought she wouldn’t respond at all.

But then, there it was. A smile. Parting the dark shadows on her face so briefly. There it was. The person behind the veil. It was a really interesting moment. One in which I realised that her closed expression was probably less about having to cross the road to avoid a jogger and their dog and more about…. well, who knows? Whatever was pressing in her life today.

I jogged on and couldn’t stop thinking, rhythmically, like a mantra (jogging can have such a meditative effect on me, which is weird, considering I’m working so hard!)….

Be the first to smile. Make it genuine. 
You could change the course of someone’s day.

Even a dog can smile.

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