This I Believe

John - Washington, District of Columbia
Entered on January 26, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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Power of a Smile

There are few things in life that I believe to be absolute truths. Most laws have loopholes and there is an exception to every rule. However, there is one thing that I have come to believe always proves true. I believe that a smile has the power to brighten the bleakest of days.

It was a cold, dreary day as I sat in my car crying to myself. I had just eaten lunch with my mother and she gently broke the news to me that my father had cancer. I had always been close with my dad. We worked side by side shucking corn on our farm and he was always cheering me along from the sideline at my soccer games. I was in utter shock that the man with whom I credited giving me life was about to lose his.

I sat there, alone. The sound of rain drops pounding the car was broken by the beeping of my cell phone. I was longing for a comforting word, but instead I received a text message that read, “It’s over.”

Apparently my other half for the past two years thought that we had reached a breaking point and no longer wished to be involved with me. Needless to say I was feeling disheartened, this was not the ideal time to go threw a text message break up.

I did not want to sit in that car by myself so I went to the mall. My phone rang again. This time, fed up with life, I literally threw it into a planter behind some bushes. I was sitting on a bench and an old, homeless woman with her hands tightly grasping a shiny object approached me. This woman was wearing ragged clothing and looked as if she hadn’t eaten in a few days. She approached me with the air of a child who has a secret that they just have to tell or else they will explode. She didn’t say a word, but smiled the toothiest grin that I have ever seen and handed me back my phone.

In that smile I saw a woman who found happiness in the simple act of helping a stranger. She could have spent her time begging for food or seeking shelter for the cold night, but instead she took a break from her day to show me kindness and compassion. In her smile I saw a woman who was not preoccupied with the problems that surrounded her life, but was instead focused on helping others by giving them the only thing that she had, a smile.

Upon seeing her smile I couldn’t help but feel a sense of relief. It reminded me that no matter how terrible life may seem you can find happiness in the most unlikely places, especially in the smiles of others.